MINSK, 25 May 2005 - In an effort to eliminate surplus small arms and light weapons and improve stockpile security and management, the Belarusian military today destroyed the first 14 out of 29 shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles in the presence of international observers.
Observers from Britain, Spain and Switzerland, as well as experts from the OSCE's Conflict Prevention Centre, visited an artillery range near the city of Sluck, some 100 km from Minsk, to see the "Strela-IIM" systems destroyed.
The destruction was carried out under the framework of the OSCE's Small Arms and Light Weapons stockpile security and management project under development in response to a request from Belarus.
In mid-2003, Belarus became the first OSCE state to request assistance for the destruction of small arms and light weapons, including man-portable air defence systems, also known as MANPADS, and for improving stockpile security and management.
The OSCE is involved in a number of programmes aimed at reducing the risk of terrorists getting their hands on portable missiles that can be used to bring down civil and military aircraft.