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Ukraine Postponing Vote on Ratifying Nuclear Arms Pacts

June 02, 1993| From Reuters

KIEV, Ukraine — Deputies said Tuesday that Ukraine will put off for several months a vote on ratifying two key disarmament treaties, placing the former Soviet republic at odds with the United States on strategic issues.

Dmytro Pavlychko, chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs commission, said Parliament will begin full-scale hearings today on START I, the first strategic arms reduction treaty, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But a vote on the documents will probably not occur until fall, he said.

"Resolving such a difficult problem can only take place over time. In the United States it took eight or nine months. It will take a long time here too," Pavlychko said.

"There is a long time before the vote can take place. I believe the final vote will be postponed until the autumn. The summer recess will allow deputies to study the matter more carefully."

Opposition leader Vyacheslav Chornovil, standard-bearer of Ukrainian nationalists, also predicted that ratification will not take place until fall.

Parliament first declared Ukraine a nuclear-free state in 1990, 18 months before independence from Moscow, and last year it gave up its tactical nuclear weapons to Russia for destruction.

START I was signed by the Soviet Union and United States in 1991. It concerns, among other things, 176 multiple-warhead missiles and a number of air-launched nuclear cruise missiles in Ukraine.

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan--the former Soviet republics holding nuclear weapons--joined in the accord under protocols signed in Lisbon last year.

But deputies in Kiev failed to meet a deadline of December, 1992, to ratify START I and the Non-Proliferation Treaty--preconditions to proceeding with implementation of the more ambitious START II arms reduction pact.

The United States has pressed Ukrainian leaders to proceed with a vote. A new delay could create further problems ahead of next week's visit to Kiev by Defense Secretary Les Aspin.

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