Kuchma promises to announce firm date for closure of the last working reactor at the troubled nuclear power plant in wake of talks with Austrian President Thomas Klestil
he end of the month.
Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Austrian President Thomas Klestil after talks earlier in the day, Kuchma said the date would be determined by a special commission headed by Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko.
"We have set up a government commission headed by the prime minister and the commission will determine the date of closure taking into account all the political, economic and social consequences of the Chernobyl closure," Kuchma said.
"The (commission) has been given May as a time frame (to announce its decision)."
Ukraine has promised the West it will close Chernobyl in 2000 in return for financial help in completing reactors at two other nuclear power plants and resolving social problems, such as unemployment, resulting from the shutdown.
Ukrainian officials have frequently complained that Western partners have failed to provide the promised funds to build the new reactors.
Chernobyl operates only one of its original four nuclear reactors.
Its number four reactor exploded in April 1986 in the world’s worst civil nuclear accident, spewing a cloud of radioactive dust over Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and parts of western Europe.
Another reactor was halted in 1997 after it exhausted its safe lifespan, and the fourth reactor has not been rehabilitated since a fire in 1991.