Ukraine to give up highly enriched uranium, convert nuclear reactors

Robert Gibbs, spokesman for President Obama, says Ukraine is announcing it will get rid of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, enough to build several nuclear weapons, by 2012.
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post staff writer
Monday, April 12, 2010; 3:05 PM

Ukraine announced Monday that it has agreed to give up its highly enriched uranium, at the start of a summit called by President Obama to focus on protecting the world's stockpiles of nuclear materials from terrorist organizations pursuing the bomb.

The announcement, made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, came soon after Obama's meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Yanukovych's February inauguration.

Ukraine agreed to give up its roughly 90-kilogram stock of highly enriched uranium by the next Nuclear Security Summit scheduled to be held in the summer of 2012, much of it this year. In addition, Ukraine will convert its research reactors from highly enriched to low-enriched uranium, a complicated engineering task.

Gibbs said the United States has been working to secure the former Soviet state's highly enriched uranium for a decade, calling Monday's announcement "just the kind of step we want to see at this summit." He said the amount is sufficient to make "several nuclear weapons."

Gibbs said it has not been determined where Ukraine will send its stock, although the United States is a possible destination.

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