Tracking Number:  368606

Title:  "Ukrainian Rada's Vote to Ratify NPT Seen as Landmark Event." Spurgeon Keeny, president of the Arms Control Association (ACA) said the Ukrainian parliament's ratification of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will ensure the indefinite extension of that accord. (941122)

Date:  19941122


11/22/94 UKRAINIAN RADA'S VOTE TO RATIFY NPT SEEN AS LANDMARK EVENT (Will trigger more nuclear arms control) (730) By David Pitts USIA Staff Writer Washington -- The vote of the Ukrainian parliament -- the RADA -- last week to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was a "courageous vote," that should ensure "indefinite extension" of the treaty when it comes up for renewal next year, Spurgeon Keeny, president and executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA), said November 22.

Speaking at a news briefing, Keeny said the "overwhelming margin of the vote -- 301 to 8," has strengthened Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma who is on a state visit to the United States this week. Kuchma is scheduled to hold meetings with President Clinton and top U.S. officials about security as well as economic issues later November 22.

Keeny said that the RADA's vote was an added bonus to the U.S. administration, coming "on the heels of the successful agreement with North Korea that essentially terminates its nuclear weapons program."

Not only does the RADA's vote "eliminate the possibility of Ukraine's becoming a nuclear power in the future," it also "makes it possible for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (START I) to come into force and for the U.S. and Russia to proceed with ratification of START II," Keeny noted.

"If START II comes into force, the U.S. and Russia are essentially committed to further negotiations and a START III agreement, Keeny explained. "This will be further evidence that nuclear weapons states are committed to reducing their stockpiles of nuclear weapons," he added.

Keeny said that, in his view, the RADA acted decisively for three major reasons:

-- the recognition that Ukraine "must work" with the U.S. and Russia to achieve economic reform;

-- the "excellent diplomatic effort by the U.S."; and -- the "considerable degree of Russian reasonableness in not exploiting" the situation in Ukraine.

Jack Mendelsohn, deputy director of ACA and a former U.S. delegate to the SALT II and START I negotiations, said it has taken approximately three years since the demise of the Soviet Union to get all the agreements necessary and "to get START I going." He said it should take about two more years to get all the nuclear weapons removed from the former Soviet republics. "By 1996, we should have a totally denuclearized former Soviet Union, with, of course, the exception of Russia," he remarked.

Mendelsohn detailed the progress Ukraine has made to date. "By this November, they were to have deactivated all the SS-24s in Ukraine; they have done so. About one-third of the SS-19s there also have been deactivated. To date, at least 360 warheads have been returned to Russia; at least another 360 are waiting to be shipped -- leaving about 1100 still currently on line," he explained.

The significance of the Kuchma government's and the RADA's leadership cannot be underestimated, particularly since it will trigger the activation of START I, Mendelsohn remarked. He said that START I imposes a reduction "of about one-third," in the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia -- down to about 6,000 warheads for each side. "We will have taken all our reductions by the end of this year," he added. "Russia also has taken major reductions already," he noted.

This will be formally recognized at the CSCE summit in Budapest early next month when "there will be an exchange of instruments of ratification" for START I, Mendelsohn explained.

Also in Budapest, Ukraine "will turn over the instruments of accession," to the NPT, Mendelsohn said. For their part, the United States, Russia, and Britain will give to Ukraine a security assurances document. "The document will stress the inviolability of borders, a principle that is essentially encompassed in the 1975 Helsinki Accords and in other security agreements," he added. But he said the Kuchma government wanted these assurances "to be customized for Ukraine in a special document." He said that France also has agreed to provide the same assurances, but not as a signatory to this particular security document.

In addition to the security assurances document for Ukraine, Mendelsohn said a second document will be signed in Budapest, the subject of which will be European security architecture. He said the Russians asked for this because of their view that new security arrangements in Europe "should not lead to new divisions."