Ukraine, U.S. Sign Nuclear Accord
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ Ukraine and the United States signed an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation Wednesday that provides $30 million in U.S. aid to modernize Kiev’s nuclear power industry.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott praised the agreement as opening new possibilities for nuclear cooperation ``that can bring practical and commercial benefits to Ukraine and the United States.″
The accord, signed by Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk and U.S. Ambassador Steven Karl Pifer, followed Ukraine’s cancellation in March of a planned $45 million nuclear deal with Iran.
Washington promised Ukraine enhanced economic ties and cooperation in the nuclear power industry if it refrained from selling atomic technology to Tehran _ which the United States accuses of developing nuclear weapons.
Tarasyuk hailed the deal as a milestone for further strategic cooperation between the two countries. He also said it would help Kiev obtain sophisticated technologies and the means to produce its own nuclear power rods, the Interfax news agency reported.
At present, Ukraine purchases its fuel rods from neighboring Russia to run its five nuclear power plants.
Pifer said the agreement might help Ukraine improve the safety of its nuclear power plants, Interfax reported. He added several American companies were interested in taking part in the construction of two new reactors Kiev wants the West to finance as compensation for the planned closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Chernobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986 when its reactor No. 4 exploded, killing at least 32 people in the immediate aftermath and spewing a deadly radioactive cloud across large parts of the former Soviet Union and Europe.
The agreement now needs to be ratified by the U.S. Congress and Ukraine’s new parliament, which will hold its first session May 12.