Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 77

On the eve of the nuclear safety summit of G-7 countries and Russia, Ukrainian leaders continue to remind their Western counterparts of Ukraine’s needs for real assistance in closing down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. President Leonid Kuchma told the visiting British prime minister John Major yesterday that Ukraine had taken the political decision to close down Chernobyl by the year 2000 and it was now the G-7’s turn to fulfill the terms of the December 1995 memorandum of understanding with Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdinets (responsible for emergency situations) delivered the same message to the Ukrainian parliament. The country’s economy is in no position to bear the costs of the closure, they pointed out. Major’s response was noncommittal. (Interfax-Ukraine, Western agencies, April 18)

Ukraine and international experts have calculated the aggregate costs of closing down Chernobyl, including construction of compensatory non-nuclear power-generating capacities, at a minimum of $4 billion. The December 1995 memorandum pledged over $2 billion, increased to $3 billion since. But most of that amount is in the form of loans rather than grants, and the financing has yet to start flowing. Kiev has repeatedly warned that tardiness in starting the aid flow prevents Ukraine from implementing its own political decision and may even force it to overhaul Chernobyl instead of closing it. Ukraine contends with severe power shortages, with nuclear power accounting for nearly 40 percent of the country’s electricity output.

South Ossetia Conflict In Less Than Deep Freeze.