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President Obama complimented Ukraine on the complete removal of highly enriched uranium from its territory. At the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Obama stated that Ukraine’s full removal of the highly enriched uranium indicated the country’s “continuing courageous leadership on nuclear security”, according to the White House Press Secretary.
The two leaders agreed that Ukraine made an important contribution for securing all vulnerable nuclear materials. On March 27 the United States announced the removal of remaining 128 kilograms (over 280 pounds) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ukraine. The shipments were completed as part of a joint effort of the two countries.
At the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit the Presidents Obama and Yanukovych made commitments to remove all of HEU from Ukraine by the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. Suffice it to say that back in 2010 both Chile and Mexico decided to follow Ukraine’s initiative to get rid of its stock of enriched nuclear materials.
In order to implement the Joint Statement by Presidents Obama and Yanukovych of April 2010 a total of six secure operations had to be conducted. The operations were made possible through cooperation between the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and the IAEA. The joint efforts resulted in the successful removal of a total of 234 kilograms over a two-year period.
Originally, there were three sites in Ukraine bearing different quantities and types of HEU. The first batch (56 kilograms of spent HEU fuel) was shipped from the Kyiv Institute of Nuclear Research in May 2010, according to the fact sheet released by the White House Press Secretary.
This was followed by three shipments in late December 2010: 16 kilograms of fresh HEU from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, 25 kilograms of fresh HEU from Sevastopol University, and 10 kilograms of fresh HEU from the Kyiv Institute of Nuclear Research. The HEU was transported to Russia, the country of its origin, where it will be converted into low enriched uranium, which cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon.
In December 1994 Ukraine joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and proclaimed its non-nuclear status. Ukraine reaffirmed its non-nuclear status in its Constitution and the declaration “On the State Sovereignty of Ukraine”.