US Congress to Debate Bill on Belarus' Arms Trade
A bill that would require the United States' Department of State to provide annual reports on Belarus' weapons trade to the US Congress has been submitted to the legislature.
Called the "Belarus Arms Transfers Accountability Act of 2009," the bill suggests that the reports should contain information about the "scale and modalities of exports of weapons and related services by the Government of Belarus and Belarusian enterprises, including revenues flows, and the potential role of the government and enterprise of the Russian Federation in such exports and revenues."
The bill also would require the Department of State to assess the "status of the stockpiles of weapons inherited by Belarus from the former Soviet regime, including a determination as to the role such stockpiles may continue to play in the export of weapons by Belarus" and report on the capability of Belarusian enterprises to manufacture weapons and provide services for such sales.
Under the draft legislation the Department of State would have to find whether Belarus has sold weapons or weapons-related technologies to "any country that is designated as a state sponsor of terrorism or not fully cooperating with United States antiterrorism efforts for purposes of section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, including Venezuela."
The bill estimates that Belarus exported around $1 billion worth of weapons between 1999 and 2006, ranking the 11th largest arms exporter in the world in the period.
According to the bill, "the actual value of arms exports by Belarus may exceed such totals, since public agreements for arms sales by Belarus may not include secret agreements made by officials of the Government of Belarus and its state-owned entities."
The draft legislation accuses Belarus of supplying "rockets, mortars, antitank weapons, and mines to Palestinian extremist groups and to state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria, as well as Mi-24 helicopters artillery systems and Russian-origin armored combat vehicles to the Government of Sudan, tanks to the communist regime in North Korea, and military aircraft and aircraft engines to Iran."
Referring to Britain's magazine Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, the bill suggests that Russia has supplied S-300 air defense missiles to Iran through Belarus and that Belarus "is the proxy route whenever Russia wants to deny it is doing the sale."
When reached by BelaPAN on Wednesday, Belarus' foreign ministry and State Defense Industry Committee declined to comment on the draft legislation.