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Belarus: Officials Say All Nuclear Warheads Removed

Moscow, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Officials in Moscow and Minsk say the last remaining Soviet-era nuclear warheads in Belarus have been shipped to Russia.

Belarus had agreed to the removal of the nuclear missiles by the end of the year. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka recently raised the possibility of stopping the withdrawal because of NATO's planned eastward expansion.

The withdrawal was completed shortly after meetings Saturday between Belarusian officials and a Russian delegation led by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Colonel General Viktor Yesin, head of the Russian strategic rocket roops, told the Interfax news agency that the withdrawal was completed Saturday.

In the Belarusian capital, Pavel Daneiko, a member of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the last missile was sent out Friday.

Belarus, along with Russia, Ukraine and Kazakstan, inherited part of the Soviet nuclear arsenal when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Kazakstan and Ukraine already have sent their weapons to Russia to be dismantled.