Kyiv, 31 March 2014 – As the international community and Budapest memorandum guarantor countries are not taking active action to protect Ukraine, there’s a probability of world nuclear arms race renewed. This opinion was voiced by Yuriy Kostenko, former Minister for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, Head of the special parliamentary working commission on Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament strategy.
Yuriy Kostenko noted that key strategic mistakes were made in the beginning of the 90s in the process of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament. He called the process to have taken place at that time “Ukraine’s nuclear devastation”. “In 1992 a comprehensive strategy was elaborated to capitalize on Ukraine’s nuclear potential for the benefit of the newly-established Ukrainian state. The last nuclear warhead should have been taken away from Ukraine only after Ukraine had been fully integrated into the European democratic community, as well as social, economic and political processes, and after Ukraine had received new tools to prevent aggression. Instead, on 14 January 1994 President Kravchuk unilaterally adopted a decision to cut the whole nuclear potential, signed three-sided agreement with the US and Russia, and on 1 June 1994 the last warhead left Ukraine”, noted Kostenko. According to the expert, it resulted in loss of interest to Ukraine by the West and in loss of huge economic opportunities.
According to Kostenko, it was also a mistake of global leaders to have built their policies on attempts to democratize Russia, and not Ukraine. “Nowadays countries who guaranteed Ukraine’s security have to apply extraordinary measures. But it is not happening, and this mere fact can lead to restoration of nuclear arms race, with nuclear armament programmes earlier suspended in 20 countries”. The expert also underlined that at the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in the Hague on 24-25 March, no decisive measures on Russia were adopted.
Mr. Kostenko noted that at the time when Ukraine gained its independence it boasted the third strongest nuclear potential in the world, but renewing its nuclear status today is not possible for both economic and political reasons. In order to create extraction system for high-enriched uranium and plutonium, production worth 50-100bln USD is required. Also, international sanctions would be automatically applied in case Ukraine makes an attempt to restore its nuclear potential.
Yuriy Kostenko is a Ukrainian politician, former Minister for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety (1992-1995). Was member of the board of Ukraine’s Security Council, of National Security Council under the President of Ukraine (1996-1998), of the Commission on nuclear policy and ecological safety under the President of Ukraine (1997-2000), of the State Commission on implementation of administrative reform in Ukraine (1997-2000).
He headed temporary Commission on drawing of the national security concept, special group of MPs to prepare ratification of Agreement on shortening strategic offensive armament. Kostenko was Head of Ukrainian delegation in negotiations with Russia on nuclear disarmament.