Ukraine, which has a long record of being champion
and advocate of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of
atomic energy, supported the Nuclear Security Summit’s agenda.
U.S. President Barack Obama in his Prague
speech in 2009 made clear that the United States will make concrete steps in
making our world free of nuclear weapons. And my country fully subscribes to
It concerns not only reducing nuclear
arsenals – warheads and rockets — but also banning the nuclear testing, and
stopping production of weapon-grade materials.
The indispensable part of today’s nuclear
security is protection of the existing nuclear materials, combating its
smuggling and preventing from getting into the hands of terrorists. Therefore,
in Washington, during the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, Ukraine
and the United States reaffirmed their shared vision of a world without nuclear
weapons, pledged to work together to prevent nuclear proliferation and realize
the Nuclear Security Summit’s goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear
In Washington, Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovych announced Ukraine’s historic decision to get rid of its stocks of
highly-enriched uranium by the time of the next Nuclear Security Summit in
2012. In turn, the United States committed to provide necessary technical and
financial assistance to support this effort.
Both presidents in a statement following
their meeting praised Ukraine’s decision as a historic step and a reaffirmation
of Ukraine’s leadership in nuclear security and nonproliferation. Ukraine joins
the United States in the international effort to convert civil nuclear research
facilities to operate using low enriched uranium fuel, which is becoming the
global standard in the 21st century, and is safer, secure and cannot be used by
terrorist groups or adversaries to commit acts of terror or threaten public
security and health.
To formalize the commitments of the presidents
in 2010, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and U.S. State Secretary
Hillary Clinton signed the Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear security
cooperation in September 2011. As it was stated by Secretary Clinton: “This
deal is a win-win for both countries and both peoples.”
Gryshchenko stressed that “we are working
together to relieve Ukraine of the burden of having highly enriched uranium in
the time when low enriched uranium is really an answer to many of the issues.”
The Seoul Summit on March 26-27 has become
yet another milestone in our bilateral cooperation. The leaders met in Seoul to
express appreciation for Ukraine’s complete removal of its highly enriched
uranium stocks and agreed that it was an important step towards securing all
vulnerable nuclear materials and an important milestone for global security. We
will continue our cooperation on the construction of the Neutron Source
Facility at Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology to ensure that it is
fully operational by April 2014.
This facility will enable Ukrainian
scientists to expand their nuclear research and produce more than 50 different
medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases.
However, securing the vulnerable nuclear materials
is not the only achievement of the Summit. In Seoul, Yanukovych announced an
initiative to establish at the Chornobyl site a new state-of-the-art
International Research Center to study, prevent and mitigate technological
disasters and make use of the atomic energy safer. The Chornobyl catastrophe
took place more than a quarter century ago, but still its bell tolls in the
hearts of Ukrainian people. Among all the tragedies that mankind has faced, the
Chornobyl catastrophe has no analogies. It has left its disastrous trace on the
ecosystem, caused multiplied health hazards of humans, deteriorated social,
economic and life conditions.
In April 2011, to commemorate the 25th
solemn anniversary of Chornobyl, we hosted Kyiv Summit on Safe and Innovative
Use of Nuclear Energy and the Pledging Conference to raise funds for
the Chornobyl projects. Initiated by Yanukovych,
these events raised $750 million for the completion of safe confinement covering
the destroyed unit and safely disposal of all nuclear fuel at the Chornobyl
site. The construction of the confinement began on April 26 on the 26th
anniversary of the Chornobyl tragedy. It will be completed in three years and
will transform the site into an environmentally safe and secure area.
It is our strong belief that only joint
international efforts will lead to a world free of nuclear weapons and peaceful
and safe use of atomic energy. Only in concerted action will we succeed in
accomplishing these noble goals.
Olexander Motsyk is ambassador of Ukraine to the United States. Motsyk,
a career diplomat, has worked for more than 30 years in foreign relations.
Prior to his assignment in the U.S. he served as ambassador of Ukraine to
Turkey and Poland. The op-ed was first published in “The Diplomatic Courier” magazine. (May-June, 2012, issue, http://www.diplomaticourier.com/).