Adds quotes from Putin
March 25 (Reuters) – Russia has struck a deal with neighbouring Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory but will not violate non-proliferation agreements, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders Poland, Putin told state television.
“There is nothing unusual here either: firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” he said.
“We agreed that we will do the same – without violating our obligations, I emphasize, without violating our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”
Russia will have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1, Putin said, adding that Moscow would not actually be transferring control of the arms to Minsk.
Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, he said, adding that Moscow had already transferred to Belarus a number of Iskander tactical missile systems than can be used to launch nuclear weapons.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa Editing by Matthew Lewis and Deepa Babington)
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