The U.S. and Ukraine Reaffirm Support for a Nuclear Free Planet

By Diplomatic Courier | Wed, 30 May 2012 21:57 | 0

Olexander Motsyk is Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S. Being a career diplomat, Mr. Motsyk has worked for more than 30 years in the field of foreign relations. Prior to his assignment in the U.S. he served as Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey and Poland. His diplomatic career also includes such positions as First Deputy Foreign Minister as well as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Ukraine. His work was marked by the Commander Cross and Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2010), The Order of Merit, II Degree (2006) and The Order of Justice, I Degree, of the World Jurist Association (2005).

In this op-ed Mr. Motsyk discusses Ukraine’s contribution to global nuclear safety and security and importance of international cooperation to make the world a safer place to live in.

Last month the unprecedented event in Seoul – 2012 Nuclear Security Summit – gathered 58 world leaders including Presidents of Ukraine and the United States to discuss and practically advance the safety of the planet Earth, how to make it nuclear free and better place to live.

Ukraine, which has a long record of being champion and advocate of the nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of atomic energy, wholeheartedly supported the Nuclear Security Summit’s agenda. President of the United States 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 itself to this message. It concerns not only reducing nuclear arsenals – warheads and rockets, 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 materials.

In Washington, President of Ukraine 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. The United States in its turn committed to provide necessary technical and financial assistance to support this effort. Both Presidents in a statement followed 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, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton in September 2011 signed the Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear security cooperation. As it was stated by the Secretary Clinton, “this deal is a win-win for both countries and both peoples”. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko stressed that “we [Ukraine and the United States] 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, 2012, has become yet another milestone in our bilateral cooperation. The leaders of both nations met in Seoul to express appreciation for the complete removal by Ukraine of its highly enriched uranium stocks and agreed that it was an important step towards securing all vulnerable nuclear materials and 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, when operational, will enable Ukrainian scientists 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 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announced an initiative to establish at the Chernobyl site new state-of-the-art International Research Center to study, prevent and mitigate technological disasters and make use of the atomic energy safer. Chernobyl catastrophe happened more than a quarter century ago, but still its bell tolls in the hearts of Ukrainian people. Among all the tragedies that mankind has already faced Chernobyl 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 Chernobyl, we hosted Kyev Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy and the Pledging Conference to raise funds for the Chernobyl projects. Initiated by the President of Ukraine these events made possible to accumulate about 550 million euro (750 mln USD) for the completion of safe confinement covering the destroyed unit and safely dispose of all nuclear fuel at the Chernobyl site. The construction of the confinement will begin on April 26, 2012, on the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy. It will be completed in three years and will transform the site into safe and secure area.

It is our strong belief that only joint international efforts will lead to the world free of nuclear weapons and peaceful and safe use of atomic energy. Only in concerted action we would succeed in accomplishing these noble goals.

By. Ambassador Olexander Motsyk