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Belarus: U.S. Queries Russia, Belarus On Missile Removal

Washington, 27 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The United States has asked the governments of Belarus and Russia to clear up confusion over the disposition of remaining Soviet-era nuclear warheads and missiles being transferred from Belarus to Russia.

U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday that after conversations today with both governments, the U.S. understands that the last SS-25 nuclear warheads on Belarusian soil are on a train headed for the Russian border. He said its was expected to cross the border Tuesday night.

The transfer was to take place today in a ceremony to be attended by Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Kenneth Yalowitz.

It will mark fulfillment of a bilateral agreement in which Belarus pledged to return to Russia all SS-25 weapons by the end of this year.

But Burns said the United States is not sure about the missile launchers, which according to Itar-Tass, remain in Belarus.

Burns says the United States is seeking further clarification on this matter from Russia and Belarus.

Under international accords, Belarus is committed to removing all nuclear strategic offensive weapons from its territory by the year 2001.