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NPT and East Europe

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) This autumn Turkmenistan and Moldavia formally acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear weapons states. In the same period, the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the Treaty but attached conditions, including the signing of an international accord guaranteeing Ukrainian security. The accord was to be signed by Britain, Russia and the United States at the Conference on Security and Coopertion in Europe, held 5-6 December in Budapest.

(424.4203) WISE Amsterdam - The Parliament also set a condition that its nuclear materials, with the exception of its nuclear warheads, remain the property of Ukraine, with the proviso that they could be used only for peaceful purposes. After Ukraine announced it was giving up its nuclear warheads, its conflict with Russia ended.

Another condition is that economic or military pressure from a nuclear weapons state would be considered an exceptional circumstance allowing Ukraine to re-examine its position on the NPT.

As a reward for signing the NPT, Kiev had hoped to win the approval for the lucrative financial rights to launch US satellites. Whether or not the Ukraine will get this deal is unclear at the moment, as its proposal has caused disagreements between US government agencies and Congress. However, it is unlikely.

In fact, the Ukraine will not get the security guarantees it is asking for either. According to western diplomats, although Ukraine is claiming it has won security guarantees from the major powers in exchange for its signature, the deal will not contain new guarantees to protect Kiev from aggression and has no binding legal status. "Ukraine wanted a special deal and what they will get is a special piece of paper which they can sell at home," said one diplomat involved in the negotiations. "There is nothing in it that goes beyond standard international commitments already in force. Kiev knows that."

Diplomats said it would have been impossible to give Ukraine formal NATO-style security guarantees, since the Western powers have refused to extend such assurances to any country outside the 16-nation Western alliance. "We could hardly give to Ukraine what we have refused to give to Eastern European states like Poland and Hungary," said one. "We would lay ourselves open to charges that we had been blackmailed by a nuclear threat."

What Ukraine does get by signing the NFT as a non-nuclear state is a commitment in that treaty which will be repeated in the four-power memorandum signed in Budapest. It stops far short of a formal security guarantee.


  • Agence France-Presse, 7 Nov. 1994
  • Washington Post Service 22 Nov. 1994
  • Reuter, 30 Nov., via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 30 Nov. 1994)