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Ukraine Says HEU Withdrawal Nearly Complete

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his country has almost finished meeting its April 2010 commitment to clear out all weapon-usable highly enriched uranium from within its borders, Worldwide News Ukraine reported on Thursday (see GSN, March 31).

"Ukraine has practically fulfilled its obligations to remove enriched uranium," Azarov said following a discussion with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano.

At the 2010 Global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pledged by 2012 to send his nation's HEU stockpile to another country for safekeeping (see GSN, April 13, 2010). The Foreign Ministry said the country had already dispatched a large portion of its weapon-usable uranium to Russia.

The former Soviet state sent roughly 234 pounds of atomic material abroad last year, and was expected to receive in return funding and f low-enriched uranium for nonmilitary research. The last of Ukraine's sensitive nuclear material is due for removal ahead of next year's planned Global Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

The elimination of Soviet-era nuclear warheads from Ukraine wrapped up in 1996, but the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research, and the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Energy and Industry retained enriched uranium stocks, Worldwide News Ukraine reported (Worldwide News Ukraine, June 9).

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