On 1 March 2017, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) welcomed Belarus Deputy Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr Valentin Rybakov, to the Maison de la paix for a public discussion on the renunciation of nuclear weapons.
Moderated by GCSP Senior Advisor on Arms Proliferation, Mr Marc Finaud, the event focused on the historical aspects of the renunciation of nuclear weapons by Belarus and other countries, the effects of any decision to withdraw nuclear weapons on countries and regions, and the feasibility and conditions for any further nuclear disarmament process.
Some twenty years ago, on 26 November 1996, the Republic of Belarus completed the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from its territory, thereby fulfilling the commitments made in the Lisbon Protocol of 23 May 1992.
“Belarus was one of the most militarized countries of the former Soviet Union,” recalled Mr Rybakov. He illustrated his point by showing images of the nuclear weapons owned by the Republic of Belaus before 1996. “From the very first days of sovereignty, Belarus wanted nuclear disarmament.”
The voluntary renunciation of nuclear weapons by three newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union, supported and guaranteed by the Russian Federation, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as France and China, significantly strengthened the nuclear non-proliferation regime based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), thus making an important step towards the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.
“Belarus is grateful to all the countries who gave aid to withdrawal nuclear weapons from its territory. Without undermining the importance of the support from the P5 states, what is needed is a solid and transparent system of guarantees for non-nuclear states.”
Mr Rybakov ended his talk by stating that continued disarmament of nuclear weapons should strengthen sovereignty and extend opportunities for sustainable development.”