Friday, March 23, 2012

Ukraine: Ukraine Completely Removes Highly Enriched Uranium

SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine

Today Ukraine has fulfilled its obligations and removed its entire stock of highly-enriched uranium (HEU), reported press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Such transfer became possible through the support of the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency, acknowledged the Ukrainian government.

On March 22 Ukraine moved the last batch of highly enriched nuclear materials to Russia finalizing its commitment to get rid of HEU before the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (March 25-26, 2012). "Such move has once again confirmed Ukraine's long-term commitment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation," reported Ukraine's foreign ministry.

In return Ukraine received an equivalent amount of low enriched uranium, special equipment and technology from the U.S. According to the bilateral agreement, the United States also started construction of the neutron source using the most up-to-date technology at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.

The above-mentioned agreement was signed by the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Kostyantyn Gryshchenko on September 26, 2011, in New York. The agreement stipulated that the U.S. would assist in securing Ukraine's vulnerable nuclear materials as well as modernizing Ukrainian civil nuclear research facilities as the country gets rid of its stock of HEU by March 2012. When obligations are fulfilled, Ukrainian civil research facilities will operate on safer low-enriched uranium. The U.S. also provided USD 60 million of financial assistance.

Ukraine first announced its decision to get rid of HEU in April 2010 when the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych participated in the Washington Summit on nuclear safety, initiated by the President of the USA Barack Obama.

In December 1994 Ukraine joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and proclaimed its non-nuclear status. Ukraine reaffirmed its non-nuclear status in its Constitution and the declaration "On the State Sovereignty of Ukraine". The last nuclear warhead was shipped from Ukraine to Russia in 1996 but a significant amount of enriched uranium remained in storage at the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research, the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, and the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Energy and Industry.