Being an equal member of UN since 1949, Belarus assumed a number of international obligations in disarmament and arms control. Since 1992, Belarus has been fulfilling obligations in nuclear and conventional arms reduction and limitation: Treaty on Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, Treaty on Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, etc. by right of representation of international agreements of the former USSR. The country also signed new global and regional agreements in the sphere of international security, elimination of chemical weapons and anti-personnel mines, additional confidence- and security- measures for military forces and activity: Vienna Document, Treaty on Open Skies, Chemical Weapons Convention, OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Hague Code of Non-Proliferation, Ottawa Treaty (Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention), etc. The country also strives to become an equal member of all existing international non-proliferation regimes.
Belarus fulfils provisions of all signed international treaties on elimination and ban of chemical, biological and bacteriological weapons, nuclear and conventional arms reduction and control successively and in full. It is proved by the country's participation in international and regional systems of disarmament and arms control, as well as confidence- and security-building measures within the UN and OSCE.
Alongside with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, the National Agency for Control and Inspections, Defence Ministry department, deals with fulfillment of international arms control treaties by Belarus.
The Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (Vienna Document) was adopted during the Forum for Security Cooperation on 30 November 2011. It is a continuation of Vienna Documents 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1999. At present, 56 OSCE member states participate in the Vienna Document.
The aim of the Vienna Document is to undertake, in stages, new, effective and concrete actions designed to make progress in strengthening confidence and security and in achieving disarmament, so as to give effect and expression to the duty of the participating states to refrain from the threat or use of force in their mutual relations as well as in their international relations in general.
Main implementation lines of the Vienna Document:
information exchange and accomplishment of measures designed to enhance transparency;
consultation and cooperation as regards unusual military activities;
cooperation as regards hazardous incidents of a military nature;
hosting of visits to dispel concerns about military activities;
contacts and military cooperation;
prior notification of certain military activities;
observation of certain military activities;
observance of constraining provisions;
fulfillment of control measures;
development of regional confidence- and security-building measures;
participation in the Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting and sessions of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation.
Annual information exchange between the Vienna Document participating states is conducted in print and electronic formats through diplomatic channels and the OSCE interstate communications network. In addition to the annual information exchange Belarus receives about 2,000 and sends about 120 current notifications a year using 56 set forms in specified time limits.
The Vienna Document defines the following inspection control measures: inspections of specified areas, visits to military units to control military activities and estimation of annual information presented by participating states.
According to the Vienna Document, in 1992–2011, Belarus received 50 inspections of specified areas conducted by 20 participating states and 22 evaluation visits of units conducted by 13 participating states. During the specified period, Belarusian inspecting groups conducted 88 inspections of specified areas on the territory of 17 participating states and 31 evaluation visits of units on the territory of 14 participating states.
In 2003–2011, representatives of Belarus participated in 17 inspections of specified areas within the Vienna Document within inspecting groups of other participating states.
Within the Vienna Documents of 1992, 1994 and 1999 Belarus organised the visits of the OSCE participating states to the following units:
the 61st fighter airbase in 1996;
the 116th bomber surveillance airbase and 11th independent mechanised brigade in 2000;
the 206th attack airbase in 2006;
the 120th independent mechanised brigade in 2006. The OSCE participating states were also demonstrated upgraded weapon systems and military equipment: the MiG-29BM combat aircraft, BM-21A BelGrad MLRS and Mi-8MTKO combat support helicopter;
the 61st fighter airbase and 11th independent mechanised brigade in 2011.
Belarus also received and accompanied seven groups of military observers from neighbouring countries to Neman–2001, Berezina–2002, Clear Sky–2003, Shield of Fatherland–2004, Osen–2008 and Zapad–2009 military exercises. Belarus invited military observers to demonstrate its good will and the spirit of transparency since the observed military activities did not exceed the thresholds for observed military activities stipulated in the Vienna Document 1999.
Belarusian representatives participated in visits to airbases and military objects, were demonstrated new types of armament and observed military exercises arranged by the OSCE participating states.
The delegation of Belarus participates on a regular basis in sessions of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, during which implementation and update of the Vienna Document are considered. The sessions are held in Vienna, Austria. Belarusian delegations also partake in Annual Vienna Document's Implementation Assessment Meetings.
Belarus fulfils its obligations under the Vienna Document in full. Foreign inspectors emphasised transparency and good will of the Belarusian side, as well as expertise of representatives of inspected military units and escort groups in their reports.
Within the policy of strengthening regional stability based on the principle of bilateral and mutually beneficial cooperation with neighbouring states in all spheres and according to the Vienna Document’s Chapter X Regional Measures, Belarus signed the following bilateral agreements:
An Agreement between Belarus and Lithuania on Additional Confidence- and Security-Building Measures dated 19 July 2001;
An Agreement between Government of Belarus and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on Additional Confidence- and Security-Building Measures dated 16 October 2001;
An Agreement between Belarus and Latvia on Additional Confidence- and Security-Building Measures dated 4 March 2004;
Additional Confidence- and Security-Building Measures to the Vienna Document 1999 adopted by Belarus and Poland and dated 20 July 2004.
According to provisions of specified agreements, in 2002–2011, Belarus additionally received 15 inspections of specified areas and 30 evaluation visits. During the period, Belarus conducted 12 inspections of specified areas and 31 evaluation visits in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.
The participating countries regularly hold meetings of experts on the regional agreement’s implementation assessment and development of measures for enhancement of agreements’ effectiveness and implementation.
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (the CFE Treaty) was signed on 19 November, 1990 and came into effect on 17 July, 1992. 28 European states and Canada and the USA are states parties to the treaty.
The CFE Treaty objectives are:
prevention of the use of force or a threat of the use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any state;
prevention of any military conflict in Europe;
achievement of greater stability and security in Europe;
replacement of military confrontation with a new pattern of security relations;
establishment of a secure and stable balance of conventional armed forces in Europe;
elimination of disparities prejudicial to the stability and security;
elimination of a capability for launching a surprise attack.
The main activities within the Treaty implementation are the following:
control over compliance with the provisions of the Treaty (i.e. conducting inspections);
coordination and resolving of ambiguities within the Joint Consultative Group.
Information exchange among the states parties in print and electronic formats is conducted annually by delegations' head within the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna, Austria.
In addition to the annual information exchange, Belarus receives about 2,000 and sends over 100 current notifications from and to states parties a year using 37 set forms in specified time limits through diplomatic channels and the OSCE interstate communications network.
In 1992–2011, Belarus received 251 inspecting groups from 19 sates parties and conducted 202 inspections of objects of verification of armed forces of NATO member states. Belarusian inspectors participated in 109 inspections of declared sites within inspection groups of the Treaty’s states parties.
The Belarusian delegation regularly participates in sessions of the Joint Consultative Group on the Treaty. The sessions are held in Vienna, Austria. Agreed solutions of the states parties are arranged as decisions of the Joint Consultative Group.
The Belarusian delegation also participated in the First (16–31 May 1996), Second (28 May–1 June 2001) and Third (29 May–2 June 2006) Conferences on the CFE Treaty and Extraordinary Conference of States Parties to CFE Treaty (11–14 June 2007).
Belarus fulfils its obligations under the CFE Treaty in full. According to results of foreign inspection activities, no claims to Belarus on compliance with the provisions of the CFE Treaty were reported.
The Treaty on Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) between USSR and the USA was signed on 8 December 1987 and came into effect on 1 June 1988. Elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles and launchers for this type missiles was completed by 1 June 1991.
Alongside with Kazakhstan, Russian and Ukraine, Belarus became a successor state of the former USSR to the Treaty according to the decision of the Summit of Heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States held on 9 October 1992 in Bishkek (Kyrghyzstan).
The objectives of the Treaty are:
consolidation of the international peace and security;
reduction of nuclear war threat;
consolidation of strategic stability in the world.
The main activities within the INF Treaty are:
compliance with bans set;
compliance with the Treaty’s provisions;
participation in the Special Verification Commission in Geneva, Switzerland.
The INF Treaty is of unlimited duration. According to its provisions, the Parties committed neither to produce any medium-range (1,000–5,500 km) and shorter-range (500–1,000 km) ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, nor carry out flight tests of such missiles nor produce any stages and launchers of such missiles.
The states parties' rights to conduct on-site inspections under the Treaty ended on 31 May 2001. Belarus received 21 US inspections under the Treaty.
No claims to Belarus from the US side on compliance with the provisions of the Treaty were reported.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was approved by the UN General Assembly on 12 June 1968. The Treaty was opened for signature on 1 July 1968 in Moscow, Washington and London, and entered into force in 1970.
Belarus became a successor state of the former USSR to the Treaty according to the Decision on Participation of the Commonwealth of Independent States Members in the NPT dated 1 June 1968, approved on 6 July 1992 in Moscow. The Decree of Belarus’ Supreme Soviet on ratification of the country’s accedence to the Treaty was accepted on 4 February 1993.
During the exchange of ratifications in Budapest on 5 December 1994, Russia, UK and the USA admitted the Memorandums of Security Assurances for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in connection with their accedence to NPT.
The Treaty is designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and provide international control over states parties’ compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.
The Treaty confirms the following rights of states parties:
the right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as well as to participate in exchange of corresponding equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
the right of any group of States to create zones with the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories;
the right of nuclear weapon participating states to assist any non-nuclear weapon state through peaceful nuclear explosions.
Alongside with the Treaty, participating states accepted one-sided obligations on non-application of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. In addition, in 1968 and 1995 the UN Security Council passed resolutions on assistance to non-nuclear states if nuclear weapons were implemented against them or there was a threat of such implementation.
Control over non-nuclear states’ compliance with the Treaty’s provisions is conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Each participating state undertakes to conclude an agreement with the IAEA for the application of its safeguards to the Treaty’s provisions and to prevent diversion of nuclear materials from peaceful to weapons use. IAEA safeguards concern source and special fissionable materials in all of the non-nuclear weapon state's peaceful nuclear activity.
NPT stipulates that a conference of states parties to the Treaty shall be held each five years in order to review its operation. At 1995 Conference, the Treaty was extended indefinitely.
Belarus was the first country in the world to refuse to possess nuclear weapons passing from the former USSR voluntarily and unconditionally. Voluntary refusal from nuclear weapons contributed to a positive image of Belarus on the world arena. Introduction of the Initiative to Create a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Space in Central and Eastern Europe in 1996 became a logic continuation of measures for strengthening international peace and security. Belarus supports all existing regimes and initiatives aimed at prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons, missile technologies and delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.
At present, Belarus strictly observes bans on possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed on 24 March 1992 in Helsinki, Finland. It was ratified by Belarus on 29 May 2001. The Treaty entered into force on 1 January 2002 and currently has 34 states parties: 32 European states, Canada and the USA.
The Treaty’s objective is to create an Open Skies regime for observation flights by states parties over the territories of other states parties to improve openness and transparency in arms control and to strengthen the capacity for conflict prevention and crisis management within the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and in other relevant international institutions.
The Treaty is implemented through observation flights on specially equipped observation aircraft of states parties.
Belarus participates in the Treaty on Open Skies within the Belarus–Russia Group of States Parties.
After the Treaty came into force, in 2002–2011, the Belarus–Russia Group of States Parties received 273 observation flights from other states parties, including 52 flights conducted over the territory of Belarus. In its turn, a group of Belarus–Russia States Parties conducted 310 observation flights over territories of other states parties, including 37 flights with participation of Belarusian flight representatives.
Representatives of the Belarus–Russia Group of States Parties also took part in 6 inspections of observation aircraft of the states parties, Belarusian representatives participated in 3 of these inspections.
During the specified period, Belarus provided 619 transit flights of observation aircraft of the states parties over its territory within the Treaty.
Information exchange using 39 set forms between the Treaty’s states parties is conducted through diplomatic channels and the OSCE interstate communications network. Belarus receives about 1,200 and sends about 120 current notifications a year in specified time limits.
Issues on compliance with the Treaty’s provisions and their development are discussed with Belarus’ participation within the Open Skies Consultative Commission held in Vienna, Austria. The Commission takes decisions by consensus of states parties’ delegations. Issues on the Treaty’s implementation within the Belarus–Russia Group of States Parties are coordinated within the Belarus–Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Open Skies.
Belarus fulfils its obligations under the Treaty on Open Skies in full. No claims to Belarus from states parties on compliance with the provisions of the Treaty were reported.
The OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW Document) was adopted at the 308th Plenary Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation on 24 November 2000.
The aim of the OSCE Document on SALW is to combat SALW illegal trafficking in all its aspects through adoption and implementation of national controls, and enhanced cooperation and exchange of information between law-enforcement and customs agencies on the international, regional and national levels.
The main activities within the SALW Document are:
combat against illicit trafficking in all its aspects;
management of stockpiles, reduction and destruction of surpluses;
early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.
Since 2001, Belarus has been submitting information to the OSCE member states on the following issues in accordance with the SALW Document: export/import of SALW during the previous year; quantity of SALW destroyed on the territory of the country during the previous calendar year; marking of systems used during SALW manufacturing and import; control procedures over SALW manufacturing and changes in the national legislation on SALW.
In 2002, Belarus prepared a national report on export control and armament and military equipment export for the UN Secretary-General and OSCE member states. The report also covered the issues on SALW non-proliferation control and was highly estimated by foreign experts. Belarus updates the report each two years.
In 2004–2005, Belarus received four OSCE missions on SALW stockpile sites, during which the project of rendering technical and financial assistance to Belarus to enhance SALW storage safety (Project). The results of the first phase of the Project’s implementation in 2008 were highly estimated by two OSCE expert commissions. At present, the Project’s second phase is funded and implemented in six military units of the Belarusian Armed Forces.
In 2005 and 2008, the OSCE experts observed voluntary destruction of 14 and 15 Strela-2M MANPADS, correspondingly. This proved the desire of Belarus to continue cooperation within the SALW Document in the spirit of confidence and transparency.
Issues of compliance with the provisions of the SALW Document and its development are considered at the meetings of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna, Austria, in which a permanent delegation of Belarus participates. The Commission takes decisions by consensus of delegations of states parties.
Belarus fulfils its obligations under the SALW Document in full. No claims to Belarus from states parties on compliance with the provisions of the Document were reported.
The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Inhumane Weapons Convention) was adopted at the UN conference in Geneva (Switzerland) on 10 October 1980. Belarusian Soviet Socialistic Republic (BSSR) ratified the Convention on 4 June, 1982 and it came into force on 2 December, 1983.
The Convention’s aim is to prohibit and restrict the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects and to facilitate the main talks on disarmament with a view to putting an end to the production, stockpiling and proliferation of such weapons.
Inhuman Weapon Convention is framework and serves as a legal basis for implementation of annexed Protocols on specific weapons. Any state becomes a party to this Convention six months after it acceded to at least two of the Protocols.
Protocol I on Non-Detectable Fragments dated 10 October 1980 (entered into force for BSSR on 2 December 1983) prohibits using any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays.
Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices dated 10 October 1980 was replaced by Protocol II with amendments dated 3 May 1996 (entered into force for Belarus on 2 September 2004). It is implemented for armed conflicts of an international or non-international nature and restricts the use of ground mines, booby-traps and some other explosive devices.
Protocol III on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (entered into force for BSSR on 2 December 1983) prohibits the use of any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to cause burn injury to persons or to set fire to military objectives located in areas of concentration of civilians. It is also prohibited to make forests or other kinds of plant cover the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural elements are used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives.
Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons dated 13 October 1995 (entered into force for Belarus on 13 March 2001) prohibits employing or transfering laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness.
Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War dated 28 November 2003 obligates Parties mark and clear, remove or destroy explosive remnants of war in affected territories under its control after the cessation of active hostilities.
Amended Article I to the Convention expands the scope of the Convention and annexed Protocols’ application to situations of non-international armed conflict.
Belarus complies with the provisions of the Convention and annexed Protocols in full. Belarus submits information to the US Secretary-General within the Inhuman Weapon Convention, Protocol II and amended Protocol V to the Convention annually.
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) was adopted on 18 September 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. Belarus acceded to the Ottawa Convention on 3 September 2003. The Convention is of unlimited duration. It entered into force for Belarus on 1 March 2004. At present, 159 countries are states parties to the Convention.
The Convention’s aim is to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and to destroy them.
Obligations of the sates parties:
not to use anti-personnel mines;
not to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, anti-personnel mines;
not to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under the Convention;
to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
According to the Ottawa Convention, Belarus was obliged to destroy its arsenals of anti-personnel mines, about 3.7 million items, before 1 March 2008.
Since 2004, the Defence Ministry of Belarus together with the country’s Ministry of International Affairs have been implementing agreements within the programmes on elimination of anti-personnel mines stored in Belarus in two lines:
- disposal of TNT-containing anti-personnel mines with assistance of the NATO Maintenance Supply Agency;
-disposal of cluster mines of PFM-1 type with assistance of the European Commission.
In 2006, implementation of the Demilitarisation of Antipersonnel Mines in Belarus project between Belarus and the NATO Maintenance Supply Agency was finished. Within the project, about 300,000 TNT-containing antipersonnel mines were disposed.
The problem of disposal of PFM-1 type mines, the number of which amounts to about 3.4 million, is that technologically they cannot be disassembled. Their disposal by open burst will cause negative consequences for people and environment. The world community has no experience in disposal of large quantities of this type mines with ecologically friendly technologies.
For this reason, Belarus requires foreign assistance for solving financial and technological problems related to disposal of existing stockpiles of mines.
On 22 January 2008, Belarus and the European Commission signed a financial agreement on the implementation of the international technical assistance project for elimination of weapons containing PFM-1 type mines in Belarus. Under the agreement, the European Commission allocated 4 million euro for implementation of the project.
In October 2010, Spain-based Explosivos Alaveses SA was chosen a contractor of the project according to the tender’s result.
At present, Explosivos Alaveses SA conducts preparatory activities on the territory of Belarus within the project to enable the country to fulfill its obligations under the Ottawa Convention.
Being an active participant of the global process related to mine disposal, Belarus undertook the following steps in this line:
on 22 August 1995, Belarus set a moratorium on export of all types of antipersonnel mines for two years. Its duration was prolonged three times till the Ottawa Convention entered into force;
on 17 October 1996, Belarus ratified Protocol II on Mines, Booby-Traps and other Devices with Amendments from 3 May, 1996 to the Inhuman Weapons Convention;annually, Belarus submits information to the UN General-Secretary according to Article 7 to the Ottawa Convention, as well as answers to questionnaires on antipersonnel mines and explosive remnants of war set by the decision of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation No 7/04 dated 24 November 2004.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (the Biological Weapons Convention, BWC) was open for signature on 10 April 1972 in Moscow, London and Washington. Belarusian Soviet Socialistic Republic signed the Convention on 10 April 1972. 165 countries are states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention.
The Convention is of unlimited duration. It entered into force on 26 March 1975.
There is no consultative body to the Biological Weapons Convention. Issues arisen are discussed and solved within the UN Security Council and the Conference, which is called at the request of the majority of states parties to the Convention.
The Convention’ objective is to prohibit development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and to destroy them through effective measures for universal and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
The main activity lines under the Biological Weapons Convention are:
compliance with obligations;
destruction of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons, equipment and means of delivery;
discussion and solving of the issues arisen in the UN Security Council and at the Conference of the Convention’s States Parties.
Within the UN there is a Special Group of BWC States, which considers current issues and develops guidelines for the Convention’s implementation during the sessions.
Belarus has no bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons, as well as objects for their production.
However, Belarus has a developed medical industry, which produces medical drugs. According to the BWC provisions, Belarus submits an annual report on the Convention’s implementation to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs located in New York. Data for the report are submitted by Belarus’ Ministry of Health.
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention, CWC) was signed on 13 January 1993 by 130 states in Paris, France. By now, 190 states signed the Convention and 188 of them ratified it. Belarus ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention on 9 February 1995.
The Convention is of unlimited duration. It entered into force on 29 April 1997. Organisation for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the Convention’s consultative and controlling body.
The CWC aims to prohibit the development, production, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by states parties, as well as assistance to other states in its development or acquisition.
The main activity lines under the Chemical Weapons Convention are:
compliance with obligations;
destruction of chemical weapons and objects for their production;
control over compliance with the Convention’s provisions;
discussion and solving of the issues arisen in the Organisation for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
According to the Convention’s requirements, a national body for CWC implementation was established in Belarus. The Council of Ministers of Belarus entrusted the functions of the body to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
There are no chemical weapons on the territory of Belarus. For this reason, compliance with the Convention’s provisions means compliance with obligations on the ban of chemical weapons and information support during inspections of the country’s chemical enterprises by experts from the Organisation for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
In the sphere of information activity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus submits an annual report on the Convention’s accomplishment to the Organisation for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The report updates information on production, export and import of chemicals.
In 1999–2011, Belarus received 5 inspections of the country’s chemical enterprises by experts from the Organisation for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. No claims to Belarus from international inspectors on compliance with CWC provision were reported.