Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 220

Returning to Kyiv from a working visit to the U.S., Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma announced that G-7 countries have disbursed $39 million and agreed to allocate another $300 million toward reconstruction of the leaking sarcophagus at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The disbursement and the pledge were made at an international conference in New York on financing the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) at Chornobyl’s decommissioned reactor no. 4, which exploded in 1986. Addressing the conference, Kuchma described the Soviet-era sarcophagus as "an uncontrollable nuclear bomb whose timer could start counting down at any moment." He stressed that Chornobyl is "not just Ukraine’s problem, but a problem for the international community" because Ukraine lacks the means to resolve it unassisted.

According to Kuchma, the $300 million — once disbursed — will allow work to start on the project, pending collection and disbursement of further funds. The reconstruction and associated measures require approximately $800 million, funding long promised but not delivered to Ukraine. An essential part of the program is the removal of nuclear fuel still inside the sarcophagus. Kuchma agreed with U.S. vice president Al Gore to hold a similar conference next year with G-7 political and business leaders. (Eastern Economist Daily, November 24)

Kuchma complained that the Russian delegate at the meeting was unhelpful and "sounded a discordant note. I will definitely inform Boris Yeltsin about this," Kuchma said. (UNIAN, November 22)

Protest Demonstration in Minsk on Anniversary of Lukashenka’s Referendum.