The former Soviet Republic of Belarus has agreed to eliminate all its stocks of highly enriched uranium by 2012, a move White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says represents "a significant step forward in President Obama's worldwide effort to secure nuclear material."
Gibbs said the U.S. government, which has asked nations to give up or better secure their nuclear material to prevent it from getting into the hands of terrorists, will give Belarus technical and financial help to get the job done.
The country gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 but held on its cache of highly enriched uranium. The material is expected to be transferred to Russia.
Other countries, such as Kazakhstan, have made similar commitments.
Belarus' decision could earn it an invitation to the second Nuclear Security Summit , to be held in South Korea in 2012. The first such summit, which attracted dozens of world leaders, was held in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.
(Posted by Mimi Hall)