For nearly two decades, the United States and Ukraine have cooperated on a broad range of nuclear security and nonproliferation issues. Ukraine has a long and significant history in supporting nuclear nonproliferation. Starting in 1990s, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine voluntarily gave up its remaining nuclear weapons and joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. More recently, Ukraine was one of the first nations to join the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is the lead U.S. government organization working closely with the Government of Ukraine to support President Obama’s nuclear security agenda which includes securing vulnerable nuclear materials.
At the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama and Ukrainian President Yanukovych issued a Presidential Joint Statement announcing the commitment to remove all highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ukraine by the March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. The United States committed to provide technical and financial assistance to construct a Neutron Source Facility in Ukraine that would be powered by low enriched uranium (LEU). These efforts are conducted under NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). GTRI’s collaboration with Ukraine includes:
- NNSA and the Government of Ukraine successfully converted the WWR-M research reactor from HEU to LEU at the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research (KINR) in September 2008.
- Six shipments were needed to transport all the Russian-origin HEU from Ukraine to Russia and meet the requirements of the Obama-Yanukovych Joint Statement.
- The first batch of HEU spent fuel was removed from KINR in May 2010 (56 kilograms of spent HEU fuel)
- In December 2010, three shipments of fresh HEU were removed from KINR, the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT), and the Sevastopol National University for Nuclear Energy and Industry (SNUNEI) and sent to the Russian Federation for disposition. These three shipments totaled approximately 50 kilograms of HEU.
- In March 2012, the two final shipments of HEU spent fuel from KINR and fresh HEU from KIPT were removed to Russia. These shipments completed the removal of all HEU from Ukraine before the March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in accordance with the Obama-Yanukovych Joint Statement.
- NNSA and the Government of Ukraine also collaborated to modernize reactor equipment at SNUNEI.
The United States and Ukraine continue to cooperate on the construction of the Neutron Source Facility at KIPT to ensure that it is fully operational by April 2014.