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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine Special Weapons

In 1994, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk signed a Budapest Memorandum with the United States, Britain, and Russia, guaranteeing Ukraine's inviolability and security in exchange for Kyiv's renunciation of nuclear weapons. Twenty years later, it seemed to some that the memorandum was worth less than the paper on which it was written - Russia occupied Crimea and part of Donbass, and London and Washington did not really stand up for Ukraine, limiting themselves to words and some help with weapons. After the disintegration of the USSR, Ukraine found itself in possession of the world's third largest nuclear arsenal. There were 176 launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles with some 1,240 warheads on Ukrainian territory. This force consisted of 130 SS-19s, each capable of delivering six nuclear weapons, and 46 SS-24s, each armed with ten nuclear weapons. An additional 14 SS-24 missiles were present in Ukraine, but not operationally deployed with warheads. Several dozen bombers with strategic nuclear capabilities were armed with some 600 air-launched missiles, along with gravity bombs. In addition, as many as 3,000 tactical nuclear weapons rounded out an arsenal totalling approximately 5,000 strategic and tactical weapons.

The rocket armies, missile divisions and bomber commands were led by Russian generals, operated and maintained by Russian officers and men. They were controlled from higher headquarters in the Russian capital for their personnel, funding, communications, nuclear safety standards, security systems, even their operational targets. Their professional loyalty was to Russia, but their armies and commands were located in another nationís territory. Consequently, the commanders of the air divisions and rocket armies stationed in Kazakhstan and Belarus faced conflicting pressures, just like Colonel General Mikhtyuk and general officers in the 43rd Rocket Army in Ukraine. In every one of the new nations, the rush of nationalism clashed repeatedly with the reality of the Soviet/Russian armies, navies and air forces in place.

From the first days of its independent development, Ukraine affirmed three basic principles -- not to accept, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons. The West remained concerned with the nuclear aspects of Ukraine's problems with weapons proliferation. Western sensitivity over nuclear issues convinced Ukraine's leaders that they could influence the West by using the nuclear lever.

The Declaration on State Sovereignty adopted by the Parliament of the Ukrainian SSR on 16 July 1990 defined the building of the army as a major task and a natural right of the future Ukrainian independent state. By announcing the right to maintain its own army, Ukraine took a significant step toward independence from the USSR. The military coup in Moscow in August 1991 and fears that Soviet troops on Ukraine's territory would act aggressively against the Ukrainian state led the official leadership in Kiev to subordinate these troops to the control of Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine also announced as its own the Soviet military property on the soil of the newly independent state.

The signing of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) agreement created the following situation: Russia regulated the control and communication systems of strategic forces on the territory of four independent states, but it was not able to relocate, reduce, increase, eliminate or store the resources that were outside of the Russian Federation. The other three republics did not control the usage and exploitation (operation) of the strategic armaments, located on their territory. They wanted to share the ownership over the armaments, and not to let others do anything to the armaments without their agreement. The 43rd Rocket Army and the other strategic forces would owe their allegiance to the CIS Commander-in-Chief, and not to the national defense ministers or the president.

Ukraine inherited about 30 percent of the Soviet military industry, which included between 50 and 60 percent of all Ukrainian enterprises, employing 40 percent of its working population. Ukraine was, and remains, the leader in missile-related technology, especially guidance systems, navigation electronics for combat vessels and submarines, and radar for military jets. Strong competition in the world's weapons market forced Ukraine to look into exporting arms to politically unstable or even aggressive regimes. Ukraine established its own network for arms export and, in so doing, did not fully recognize international rules and bans. The Ukrainian military traded conventional arms on the black market and signed contracts with commercial firms. The first contracts on weapons deliveries to Iran, signed in the middle of 1992, and caused negative reaction in the West (particularly in the US).

On 13 May 1994, the United States and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Transfer of Missile Equipment and Technology. This agreement committed Ukraine to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by controlling exports of missile-related equipment and technology according to the MTCR Guidelines.

Ukraine has a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also has two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant, a technology for making electronic to determine the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine has deposits of uranium that are among the world's richest.

Ukraine initially announced its intention to obtain operational control over the strategic nuclear weapons deployed in its territory. Responding to these intentions, Russian military officials responded that attempts to interfere with, or to damage the command and control systems of, Russian strategic troops located abroad would constitute a direct military threat to Russian Federation.

Originally Ukrainian leader Leonid Kravchuk was "not worried" if nuclear weapons went to Russia for decommissioning. Gradually, however, his worries developed sufficiently to lead to him to reverse his position and on 12 March 1992 to suspend temporarily the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Russia. However, in conformity with the 16 July 1990 "Declaration of State Sovereignty" and other agreements signed at the creation of the CIS, by May 1992 Ukraine voluntarily removed all tactical nuclear weapons [approximately 3000] inherited from the former Soviet Union.

The trilateral agreement signed in Moscow on 14 January 1994 by the United States, Russia, and Ukraine was seen as a significant Western success in disarming Ukraine of nuclear weapons. Under the agreement, the Russian Federation undertook to send 100 tons of fuel to Ukraine for its nuclear-power plants. The United States agreed to pay $60 million to the Russian Federation in support of that process. For its part, Ukraine agreed to transfer 200 nuclear warheads over a 10-month period.

As of May 1994, 120 SS-19 Stiletto and 60 SS-24 Scalpel intercontinental ballistic missiles had been shipped out of Ukraine for reprocessing in Russia.

Ukraine announced in June 1996 that all warheads bad been removed from the country. A problem arose in the removal of SS-19s, which use large amounts of a toxic substance known as heptyl. The United States sent storage tanks to hold 2,200 metric tons of the substance. After the SS-19 missiles were removed from combat duty, 19 were re-used in Russia.

The Strategic Nuclear Arms Elimination in Ukraine - SNAE (U) program in Ukraine was structured to support Ukrainian participation in START I Treaty implementation and facilitate the destruction of WMD delivery systems.

Strategic Weapons Systems Included in the Program
Location Weapons
Belaya Tserkov: 1 Tu-22M3 Bomber;
9 Tu-95 Bombers
Kirovskoye 1 Tu-142 Bomber
Nikolayev 20 Tu-22M Bombers;
5 Tu-142 bombers;
4 Bomber Trainers
Ozernoye: 346 Kh-22 ASMs
Poltava: 27 Tu-22M3 Bombers
Priluki: 7 Tu-22M3 Bombers;
11 Tu-160 Bombers;
74 Kh-55 ALCMs
Uzin: 18 Tu-95 Bombers;
409 Kh-55 ALCMs
The program is conducted in accordance with the Implementing Agreement between the Department of Defense (DoD) of the United States of America and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) of Ukraine Concerning the Provision of Material, Services, and Related Training to Ukraine in Connection with the Elimination of Strategic Nuclear Arms dated December 5, 1993.

In 2002, a Ukrainian proposal was submitted to split Executive Agency between the MOD and the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU), with the MOD handling military issues and NSAU handling ICBM and associated fuel elimination and part storage.

At completion of the SS-24 Weapons System Elimination and Bomber & ASM Elimination programs, all strategic nuclear arms of Ukraine will have been eliminated and the overall objectives of the SNAE (U) program will have been met.

The U.S. Department of Energy's International Nuclear Export Control Program [INECP] provides support to the State Department's Export Control and Border Security Program's (EXBS) nonproliferation goals by focusing resources on cooperative projects in the three themes that guide its domestic program: licensing, industry outreach, and enforcement.

In Ukraine, INECP provided support to licensing activities for both of the country's premier nuclear institutes-the Institute for Nuclear Research (INR) and the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT). Support for the Nuclear Export License Review System (NELRS), a computer-based system designed to facilitate the technical review of license applications, is ongoing. A second automated system, the SSECU departmental database, was also developed with INECP support. This database is used by the Nuclear Item Review Department of SSECU to review past licenses and access reference materials.

In Industry Outreach, American experts joined with representatives of INR and KIPT, as well as Ukraine's State Service for Export Control and the Science and Technology Center (STC) in providing presentations on technology transfers and technology security, commodity classification, and internal compliance for the nuclear industry in Ukraine . In the area of enforcement, the George Kuzmycz Training Center completed the first step of developing a training course for the State Customs Service of Ukraine (SCSU) by completing a curriculum deliverable accepted by SCSU. The Kuzmycz Center, it was agreed, will develop the training courses and begin training SCSU in FY 2003.

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Page last modified: 08-03-2022 19:05:37 ZULU