Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 6

U.S. defense secretary William Perry and Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers Pavel Grachev and Valery Shmarov witnessed January 5 the destruction of an SS-19 strategic missile silo at Pervomaisk. Located in the Nikolaev region, Pervomaisk was once billed the world’s largest nuclear missile base. The silo was the first of 176 silos inherited from the USSR to be destroyed in Ukraine. Perry, Shmarov, and Grachev all underscored the historic importance of the event. Perry was quoted as saying he had spent a lifetime as a "Cold Warrior," but that it was now time to promote nuclear disarmament. Both he and Grachev (who together watched the destruction of a Minuteman II missile silo in Missouri last October) noted that Ukraine was well on track observing its commitments to strategic nuclear disarmament. In Kiev, the nationalist fringe group UNA-UNSO mounted a protest to denounce a U.S.-Russian conspiracy to deprive Ukraine of a nuclear shield. (14)

Ukraine’s commitment to strategic nuclear disarmament stems from its 1994 ratification, after heated internal debate, of the U.S.-USSR START-I treaty. Ukraine’s Pervomaisk base complex housed 40 SS-19 and 46 SS-24 missiles; the Khmelnitskaya complex, 90 SS-24 missiles. Together, the missiles carried a combined total of approximately 2,000 warheads. Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament program has since made great strides. Only 96 of the original 176 missiles are still in their silos. However, the flight programs of all the missiles have been erased. Ten SS-19s (at Khmelnitskaya) are still armed with nuclear warheads, but are due to be dismantled in 1996. The emptied 176 silos must be eliminated by late 1999. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, the U.S. has granted Ukraine financial assistance worth a total of $350 million toward the costs of nuclear disarmament. Under a 1994 trilateral U.S.-Russian-Ukrainian agreement, Russia promised to supply nuclear fuel for Ukraine’s civilian nuclear power plants in exchange for the nuclear warheads, which will be separated from the missiles and shipped to Russia. To facilitate Kiev’s ratification of START-I, the U.S. and Russia also jointly guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and that Ukraine shall not be attacked or threatened with nuclear or conventional force.

New Belarusian Parliament Convenes.