The United States and Ukraine have signed an agreement to further the goal of preventing proliferation and securing all vulnerable nuclear materials. This follows Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's announcement at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit of his country's decision to get rid of all its stocks of highly enriched uranium by March 2012 when the next Nuclear Security Summit will be held.
The United States has matched Ukraine's commitments with its own, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We are providing Ukraine with financial and technical assistance to modernize its civil nuclear research facilities. We are helping convert those facilities so they operate on safer low enrichment uranium fuel."
The United States is also building a state-of-the-art neutron source facility in Ukraine, where scientists will be able to expand their civil nuclear research and produce more than fifty different medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases. At present, these are isotopes that Ukraine must import from other countries. The United States is committed to meet all agreed milestones by March 2012 for construction of the neutron source facility and to provide a fully operational facility by 2014.
Progress toward fulfilling these commitments is well underway. Ukraine has already removed a substantial portion of its highly enriched uranium, and the United States has made headway on the neutron source facility project and expects to break ground in Ukraine soon. "This deal," said Secretary Clinton, "is a win-win for both countries and both peoples. It provides tangible benefits for the people of Ukraine, and it makes the world safer for all people."
Secretary Clinton noted that this year marks the twentieth anniversary of Ukraine's independence, and it is an opportunity to reflect on other aspects of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States – specifically the countries' joint commitment to democracy, which is built on checks and balances, fair and impartial institutions, judicial independence, sound election laws, and an independent media and civil society. The transition to democracy from decades of Communism has not been easy. The United States is committed to democratic progress continuing in Ukraine. That's why it is vital that the government avoid any actions that could undermine democracy, the rule of law or political participation and competition.
Ultimately, a functioning democracy is the best guarantor of prosperity and security. It will strengthen Ukraine's relations with its partners and neighbors.