Belarus retaliated in response to American economic sanctions by suspending a project of exchanging high-enriched nuclear fuel, inherited from the Soviet Union. „The Belarusian side regards the U.S. Government decision to impose economic restrictions on Belarus as an unjustified and unlawful act.“ – commented Andrei Savinykh, spokesperson for Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
„This is a politically motivated decision which contradicts international obligations of the U.S. The U.S. move is an egregious violation of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 pursuant to which the Unites States of America undertook not to use measures of economic coercion toward the Republic of Belarus. The U.S. also violated the Helsinki Final Act committing all states to “refrain in all circumstances from any act of economic coercion designed to subordinate to its own interest the exercise by another participating State of the rights inherent in its sovereignty”. – stressed Mr. Savinykh.
„The imposition of new sanctions is contrary to the spirit of interaction and cooperation. Under these circumstances, the Belarusian side has decided to suspend talks with the American side on the project of the exchange of high-enriched nuclear fuel for the low-enriched under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy.“ – he added.
Mr. Savinykh stressed that despite suspending the program, Belarus will store the nuclear fuel in a secure manner and in accordance with international treaties.
U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton and Belarusian Minster of Foreign Affairs Sarkhiey Martynav signed an agreement on the issue of the high-enriched nuclear fuel, last year during an OSCE session. They decided that in exchange for financial and technological support from the U.S., Belarus will get rid of all the reserves of high-enriched fuel which can be used to produce nuclear weapons.
„Halting by the United States of its measures of economic coercion toward Belarus and restoration of a normal climate in our relationship may lead to resumption of cooperation on these projects.“ – said Mr. Savinykh.
Such declarations are of no concern to anyone, thinks Stanislav Shushkievich, first head of independent Belarusian state. – There is very little high-enriched nuclear fuel in Belarus. Under no circumstances does it constitute a threat for the world or people. I am convinced that the Belarusian retaliation will not persuade the United States to suspend the economic sanctions – Shushkievich told Belsat.
On August 11th, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Belarusian state-owned companies – Naftan refinery, fertilizers producer Grodno-Azot, synthetic fiber factory Grodno-Khimvalanko and a car tire producer Belshyna. The American government banned its citizens from making any financial or trade exchange with the listed companies. Their bank assents in the U.S. were frozen. At that time Andrei Savinykh announced that the U.S. can expect retaliation.