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Ukraine’s nuclear status resumption bill must be kept in focus - military experts

August 28, 2014, 18:17 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, August 28. /ITAR-TASS/. The draft resolution for restoring the status of Ukraine as a nuclear power, registered by the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, a month ago should enjoy unflagging attention, as the current authorities in Kiev and their Western sponsors are unpredictable in their actions, several polled military experts have told ITAR-TASS.

Ukraine voluntarily joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992. Its nuclear warheads were then collected and taken to Russia or disposed of on site. The draft of a parliamentary resolution restoring Ukraine’s status as a nuclear power, initiated by the nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom) was registered at the Ukrainian parliament’s secretariat back on July 23, but there has been no official response to this document from the United States or NATO yet.

“Since the breakup of the Soviet Union many in Ukraine have repeatedly said they would like to see the country’s nuclear status restored, but the Pentagon inevitably nipped such discussions in the bud. Now, after Crimea’s reunification with Russia the Ukrainian nationalists have resumed foreign threat rhetoric to declare that the abdication of nuclear weapons was a mistake,” the Deputy Director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Pavel Zolotaryov, has told ITAR-TASS. In his opinion “Ukraine’s attempt at regaining its nuclear status should be kept in focus.”

The authorities in Kiev have been inconspicuously lobbying for the nationalists’ idea. The leader of Ukraine’s national association of strategic missile force veterans, Nikolai Filatov, has told the Ukrainian television channel Rada in an interview that when Ukraine was giving up its nuclear weapons and disbanding the 43rd missile army, the age of most specialists being dismissed from active service ranged 35-40 years. These people are still available. Besides, there are tens of thousands of specialists - engineers and technicians - who had participated in designing and making strategic missiles at the Yuzhmash missile plant. There is a certain potential that might enable Ukraine to become a major nuclear power and create mobile ground-launched missile complexes that would pose a threat to a likely enemy.”

“Ukraine does have the intellectual potential for creating nuclear weapons and Kiev can obtain a ‘nuclear stick’, if need be. But there is no money for such a program in Ukraine’s budget at the moment, and the United States will not let Ukraine walk out of the NPT treaty, which Moscow and Washington had so enthusiastically supported and welcomed,” Zolotaryov said.

“The draft resolution restoring Ukraine’s nuclear status, which the national parliament has registered for consideration, is sheer political propaganda. Kiev has no capabilities for translating this idea into reality, because the nuclear program would have to be launched from scratch,” Colonel-General Viktor Yesin, a former chief of the strategic missile forces’ general staff, has told ITAR-TASS.

“The main reason why Ukraine will fail to obtain the desired status is the United States is not interested in nuclear weapons proliferation and may simply obstruct the disbursement of another IMF tranche, if the Verkhovna Rada opens debates on the provocative resolution in full seriousness,” Yesin said.

The president of the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, is sceptical about Ukraine’s ability to promptly go nuclear again.

“Ukraine has no nuclear warheads. Even if it had some warheads left, mounting them on outdated Soviet-era Tochka-U missiles, all of them written off already, would be impossible. Kiev has no chances of restoring its nuclear potential at all,” Ivashov said.

“From the standpoint of international law getting a nuclear power status for Ukraine would be impossible. For that Kiev would have to leave the Lisbon Protocol of 1992, by which Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus joined the NPT treaty,” the analyst added.

“At the same time the draft resolution restoring Ukraine’s nuclear power status could have never been registered by the Ukrainian parliament without prior consent from the United States. Kiev never does anything without US approval. In the meantime, Washington has preferred to take a pause. This is tantamount to a hint that US and British nuclear weapons can be placed in Ukraine’s territory some day,” Ivashov warned.

“It is not accidental that NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has already mentioned the alliance’s plans for opening more military bases in Eastern Europe. It is not ruled out that these statements in combination with the nuclear ambitions of Ukraine’s nationalist legislators are nothing but steps to pave the way for the deployment of NATO’s tactical air-launched weapons in Ukraine as a means of pressure on Russia,” Ivashov said.


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