Belarus Suspends Uranium Deal with US Because of Sanctions

Posted August 19th, 2011 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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Belarus says it is suspending a plan to eliminate its highly-enriched uranium under an agreement with the United States.

The foreign ministry announced Friday that it is freezing the project because of new U.S. sanctions, which it said go against the spirit of cooperation.

The U.S. imposed the economic sanctions last week in response to the Belarusian government's crackdown on political opponents. The measures target four firms owned or controlled by a company linked to President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarusian police have arrested hundreds of people demonstrating against Mr. Lukashenko's 17-year rule. Dozens of people were sentenced to prison terms for taking part in protests following Mr. Lukashenko's disputed re-election in December, including several former presidential candidates. The opposition says the vote was rigged.

The United States has called Mr. Lukashenko Europe's last dictator for suppressing human rights, stifling free speech and fixing elections.

The former Soviet republic is also facing economic turmoil that forced it to sharply devalue its national currency.