ASTANA, Kazakhstan — In a sudden turnaround Thursday, the former Soviet republic of Belarus announced Wednesday that it will give up all its weapons-grade uranium.
The Belarus decision is a diplomatic victory for US President Barack Obama, who has set a goal of securing all the world's nuclear materials within four years as a centerpiece of his strategy for denying nuclear weapons to terrorists.
Belarus, which had been a holdout, was banned from an April nuclear security summit hosted by Obama, along with Iran and North Korea.
The amount of material Belarus will send to Russia for disposal was not mentioned but is believed to be enough to make at least several nuclear bombs. Belarus, which gained independence in the breakup of the Soviet Union, gave up its Soviet-origin nuclear weapons in 1994, but retained highly enriched uranium stocks for research purposes.