Office of the Spokesman
September 21, 2006
Milestone Reached in NATO Partnership for Peace Arms Destruction Project in Ukraine
The world’s skies were made a little safer this week when the controlled destruction of 1000 Ukrainian man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), was completed on September 20 in northeast Ukraine, outside the city of Shostka. These weapons, deemed by Ukraine to be excess to its defense needs, are but the first installment in a 12-year weapons and munitions destruction project being undertaken by Ukraine and NATO in a NATO-Partnership for Peace Trust Fund initiative - - the largest such multilateral destruction project of its kind.
The United States is the lead sponsor of
the first three-year phase of this project to which it already has
contributed over $3.64 million. 12 other countries and the European
Union have pledged over €5.6 million (approximately $7.2 million).
Ukraine is providing most of the operational funding and in-kind
support. A total of approximately $27 million will be required from
donors to complete the project. Additional contributions, including
those from non-NATO members, will be welcomed.
In addition to the MANPADS
that were destroyed, 15,000 tons of stockpiled excess and unstable
munitions, including ammunition for automatic weapons, artillery
shells, and mortar rounds, and 400,000 small arms and light weapons,
are scheduled to be destroyed during the first phase. By the end of the
twelve-year project, a total of 1.5 million small arms and light
weapons, and 133,000 tons of munitions will have been safely destroyed.
The impetus for this
extraordinary project is twofold. First, Ukraine has suffered several
major explosions of unstable ordnance in some of its munitions depots.
Controlled destruction of the remaining dangerous ordnance will reduce
the public safety threat and health risk to Ukrainians who live near
such depots. Second, the destruction of weapons and munitions that are
no longer needed by Ukraine to defend itself will ensure that they are
never obtained by illicit arms traffickers, criminals, or terrorists.