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Twenty Years of Renunciation From Nuclear Weapons by Ukraine: Lessons Learned and Prospects of Nuclear Disarmament

Thomas M. Countryman
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
The Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations
New York City
April 28, 2014



The 2014 PrepCom is an opportunity to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to reinforce our shared responsibilities to uphold it. The United States remains committed to full implementation of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan. Through this PrepCom we will build on the momentum of the successful 2010 Review Conference and PrepComs in 2012 and 2013. As we approach the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the United States looks to all States Parties to work together towards strengthening this critical treaty which has underpinned international security for nearly 45 years.

I thank our Ukrainian friends for hosting us today. As President Obama and Secretary Kerry have said, the United States strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Last week, Vice President Biden traveled to Kyiv in order to demonstrate our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. He discussed how the United States is supporting the international community’s efforts to stabilize and strengthen Ukraine’s economy and assist Ukraine in political reform and uniting the country. The Vice President announced a U.S. package of assistance totaling $50 million to help Ukraine pursue political and economic reform and strengthen our partnership. He made clear that Ukraine has a difficult road ahead, but it will not walk this road alone. And today the United States announced that it will impose new targeted sanctions on a number of Russian individuals and entities and restricting licenses for certain U.S. exports to Russia.

Budapest Memorandum Commitments

In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom made a commitment to respect the independence, sovereignty, and existing borders of Ukraine. The United States government remains committed to the Budapest Memorandum.

Our partnership with Ukraine goes back many years, and is particularly strong in the area of nonproliferation. We appreciate Ukraine’s continued leadership in this area.

Ukraine’s Nonproliferation Record

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Ukraine’s historic decision to remove the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world from its territory and to accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state. Ukraine’s unwavering commitment to its obligations under the NPT demonstrates that when a country places itself squarely within the NPT and diligently adheres to all of the Treaty’s obligations, all nations benefit.

Since 1994, Ukraine has a strong record of supporting nuclear nonproliferation and threat reduction. With support from the “Nunn-Lugar” Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Ukraine dismantled an enormous stockpile of ICBMs, heavy bombers, and related delivery systems. In 2004, it began an augmented program with the U.S. Department of Defense that includes weapons of mass destruction proliferation prevention and border security initiatives. By hosting the multilateral Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU), Ukraine has engaged over 20,000 scientists from the former Soviet weapons program in peaceful activities. The United States has been proud to be a partner in those efforts.

Ukraine brought its IAEA safeguards agreement into force in 1995; it signed the Additional Protocol in 2000 and brought it into force in 2006. Ukraine joined the Global Partnership against the spread of WMD in 2005, in 2007 it was one of the first countries to join the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Ukraine participated actively in all three Nuclear Security Summits. In 2012, Ukraine fulfilled its pledge to remove all highly enriched uranium from Ukraine, a highlight of the 2012 Summit.

In 2013, we extended the U.S.-Ukraine Cooperative Threat Reduction Umbrella Agreement for another seven years, as well as an agreement to increase safety and risk reduction at civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Recent events in Ukraine underline the importance of bringing to closure to the legacy of Chernobyl by finishing construction of a landmark shelter to durably protect the population and environment, a project to which the United States has pledged approximately $337 million. Last month, a joint U.S. – Ukraine project to construct a Neutron Source Facility at the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology was completed, providing Ukraine with new research capabilities and the ability to produce industrial and medical isotopes. In short, U.S. – Ukrainian cooperation on nuclear security and nonproliferation is broad and deep.

U.S. Commitment to Nonproliferation

We applaud Minister of Foreign Affairs Deshchytsia’s reaffirmation of Ukraine’s longstanding commitment to its nonproliferation obligations at the Nuclear Security Summit last month. Like Ukraine, the United States is committed to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. This is a central element of President Obama’s nuclear agenda. There is a long road ahead, but we are working to create the conditions for its eventual achievement. As President Obama said in Berlin in June, 2013, the United States can ensure its security and that of its allies while safely pursuing further nuclear reductions with Russia of up to one-third in the deployed strategic warhead level established in the New START Treaty.

As next steps toward nuclear disarmament, the United States remains committed to pursuing entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and consensus to start negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

I would like to highlight the work done at the P5 Conference earlier this month in Beijing toward implementing the Action Plan adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference

The NPT serves as a key element of international security and the basis for international nuclear cooperation. We will continue to address the serious challenges of cases of noncompliance with Treaty obligations, and will continue to support expanding access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We look forward to a productive Preparatory Committee meeting, and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the Treaty’s contributions to international peace and security are strengthened.

I thank our Ukrainian hosts again for today and congratulate them again on this important anniversary and their continued leadership within the NPT. I look forward to working with Ukraine, and with all other NPT Parties, over the coming weeks to ensure that the NPT remains strong.

As Secretary Kerry stated last week, the world will remain united for Ukraine.

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