Washington, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A State Department official in Washington says the United States expects Belarus to keep its commitment to return to Russia all remaining nuclear weapons by the end of this year.
Jack Segal, director of Western Slavic and Moldovan Affairs, says the U.S. has been given repeated assurances from the highest levels of the Belarusian government that this is the goal. He said Washington has had no notice from Minsk of a change in policy.
He said the weapons and all supporting infrastructure are to be returned to Russia. "We expect it to happen this year," Segal said.
He was commenting in an RFE/RL interview on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's statement yesterday in the Russian State Duma that his country may stop the withdrawal of nuclear weapons unless NATO guarantees that its future member-states will remain nuclear-free.
Segal said the U.S. views this as a hypothetical suggestion by Lukashenka. Segal said the weapons are under Russian control in Belarus and that the Russian side fully intends to remove the weapons as planned. "The process is under way and remains on schedule," he said.