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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 24, March 1998

US-Ukraine Press Conference

Press Conference by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister Hennadiy Udovenko, Kiev, 6 March 1998

Editor's note: See News Review for more details on Ukraine's decision not to proceed with a sale of turbines to Iran.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Udovenko

"Intense and crucial talks with Mrs. Albright, the Secretary of State, have come to the end. I have referred to these talks as crucial not because we have problems that emerged in the course of discussions, but because within a very short [period] we have considered a very wide range of important issues and made a number of definitive decisions, signed and initialed a string of bilateral documents. ...

In the course of negotiations...we discussed an extensive scope of issues related to the Ukrainian-US relations in particular political, trade, economic, non-proliferation, and security issues. Special attention was attached to the cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy and space research. The agreement of cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy that has been initialed opens opportunities for attracting financial assistance and private investments from the US and reform programs and development of Ukraine's nuclear energy sector.

The documents concerning protection of satellite technologies pave the way for Ukraine's participation in international commercial space projects including such large ones as the 'Sea Launch' and the 'Global Star.' The fact that the United States of America fully supports immediate accession of Ukraine to the missile technology control regime [MTCR] is considered by us as a very important step in the spirit of strategic partnership. In addition, the USA will insist on the support of Ukrainian membership in this regime by other MTCR members. So we can hope that in the nearest future, Ukraine will accede to the missile technology control regime and fully participate in international cooperation in this field where, as is known, we have a great scientific and industrial potential.

I would like to stress that this arrangement corresponds to Ukrainian national interests. We have discussed with the Secretary of State issues of international security and cooperation, in particular, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies and equipment. In this connection, Ukraine has decided to refrain from nuclear cooperation with Iran, including the supply of turbines to the 'Bushehr Project.'

It was not an easy decision since our companies are having very substantial financial losses... In this connection, I would like to stress on the importance of the provision of the agreement we have just signed that we are going to send a group of experts to Kharkiv to work, to examine this issue. ..."

Remarks by Secretary Albright

"The joint statement Foreign Minister Udovenko and I just signed is the product of many months of hard work which build on the efforts of the commission chaired by President Kuchma and Vice President Gore. It represents a major stride forward in the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States.

I want to hail in particular, Ukraine's decision today not to cooperate with Iran's nuclear program. This decision took great statesmanship. By carrying it out, Ukraine will cement its place in the international coalition to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

We also agreed today to support Ukraine's immediate admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime. Ukraine's responsible missile non-proliferation policies will allow us to expand cooperation between our space agencies. We also reached an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation, which will create profitable opportunities to work together on nuclear energy, and help Ukraine develop safe new sources of nuclear fuel. ..."

Questions-and-Answers

"Question (Interfax news agency of Ukraine): 'I'd like to address a question to President Kuchma. I'd like to point out that in my understanding there has been a compromise for [the] Bushehr problem, and that the Minister Udovenko mentioned that Ukraine has suffered thus enormous losses. Should we understand that the US support for our joining the MTCR need a certain measure of compensation for the losses and in other words whether there would be further investments in atomic energy in this respect?'

President Kuchma: 'I'd like to turn you a bit back into history. The contract on the building of Bushehr project was signed by the Soviet Union. You must calculate how many years it lasts. And besides I can bring you up to date, that nothing besides [the] document was made in Kharkiv. And today nobody can be sure how many years will elapse until the construction is over. We estimate this construction to be something like $45 million. So the words of our honorable minister are a bit of an exaggeration. Second part of your question: Ukraine's accession to the MTCR removes all the limitations as to Ukraine in the space market. In no case this is no balance to the issue of one turbine. Because it would mean the Sea Launch project, the Global Star launches projects and prospects for other possibilities. So this decision has been taken only in the national interests of Ukraine. ...'

Question (CNN): 'President Kuchma, if I may address my question to you, please? I think it would be useful for us to hear the authority of your voice behind the pledge of Ukraine on the Bushehr contract matters, so I'd like to ask you if you pledge on behalf of Ukraine to stop the contract with the Russians and with Iran, but I'd also like to ask you to reflect for a moment on what effect that decision, the decision you have taken, might have on Ukraine's relations with Russia.'

President Kuchma: 'First and the main thing, Ukraine is well aware of...safety and nuclear security for we've got Chernobyl. For that reason we have taken the considered decision to accede the NPT and we've called on all other countries of the world to do so by including those from the nuclear club so that to reduce nuclear threat all over the world. So, the political leadership of Ukraine hasn't got anything else in mind. And we will do our best so that to keep to the taken decisions. As far as it concerns our relations with Russia, I would put it in the following way: the decision has not been taken based on nothing. First, Russia hasn't got any technological difficulty so that to build this sort of turbine in Russia. Believe me that we are well aware of the possibilities of each other. As for Ukraine, we have agreed with Mrs. Albright and we are going to continue the discussion of the issue that the Kharkiv enterprise which has suffered these losses should be assisted somehow so that not to lose too much. Today there a lot of power plants, including hydropower plants, are built all over the world, even in such areas as South America, and the efforts of this enterprise would be rather valuable for that. So we have agreed that the enterprise will not remain face to face with this problem alone. ...'

Question (ORT Russian television): '...do you think, Mr. President, that supporting MTCR and retaining the weapons we've got is possible at the same time?'

President Kuchma: 'Ukraine is not going to trade tactical missiles which we possess. So this issue is in no way connected with the MTCR.'"

Source: Transcript - Remarks of Albright and Udovenko in Kiev, United States Information Service, 9 March.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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