Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 146

Ukrainian prime minister Yevhen Marchuk considers that a memorandum of understanding between Ukraine and G-7 countries and the European Commission, regarding assistance for closing the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, is "evidence of progress" and that "Ukraine’s partners understand Ukraine’s position better," and advances the prospect of Chernobyl’s closure. Marchuk spoke after President Leonid Kuchma and the G-7 and EU ambassadors in Kiev examined the memorandum, drawn up by negotiators November 30 in Vienna and is expected to be signed in Kiev this month. Ukraine’s chief negotiator and minister for the environment and nuclear safety, Yuri Kostenko, said that the memorandum strengthens the linkage between closure and Western assistance, lists Ukrainian energy projects which will receive Western grants and credits in amounts still to be set, and stipulates that Ukraine’s share of closure-related expenses will be determined "with due account of Ukraine’s economic and financial situation." (12)

According to Ukrainian scientists, closure of Chernobyl’s remaining three power blocks requires five years, necessitating that Western aid come on stream by early 1996 if Ukraine is to carry out Kuchma’s political decision to close down the plant by the year 2000. Ukraine’s nuclear lobby and some influential political groups argue that the plant can safely be kept in operation for a long time to come. Parliament chairman Oleksandr Moroz last week weighed in on the side of this view, pointing out that Kuchma’s political decision was never approved by parliament and calling for urgent development of plans to upgrade Chernobyl so that it can work well beyond the year 2000 in case Western assistance toward its closure proves inadequate.

Washington Condemns Lukashenko’s Praise of Hitler.