The USA and Ukraine have signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize pledges made by their respective presidents towards ridding Ukraine of its stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU).
|Konstantyn Gryshchenko and Hillary Clinton at the Waldorf-Astoria (Image: US Department of State)
The agreement was signed by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Ukrainian foreign minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko in a ceremony held at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. According to Clinton, it "formalizes our intent to fully implement" commitments made by the two countries' presidents at the nuclear security summit held in April 2010 in Washington DC. At that meeting, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich pledged to remove all Ukraine's stocks of HEU by March 2012. In return, Barack Obama pledged US financial and technical assistance to help modernise Ukrainian civil nuclear research facilities to enable them to switch to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.
One part of the US assistance package is the construction of a neutron source facility in Ukraine to enable the country to produce its own medical isotopes. According to Clinton, the US remains committed to providing a fully operational facility by 2014, with groundbreaking for the new facility expected to take place soon.
For Ukraine's part, Clinton noted that the country had already removed a "substantial portion" of its HEU. The US National Nuclear Security Administration oversaw the return of 50 kg of fresh HEU fuel to Russia from three sites in Ukraine in December 2010. Ukraine's HEU dates from the Soviet era, and most will ultimately be shipped back to Russia, its country of origin. The WWR-M research reactor at the Kiev Institute of Nuclear Research was converted to LEU in September 2008.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News