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Ukraine Agrees to Give Up Its Nuclear Arsenal, Clinton Says : Summit: President hails the accord as a breakthrough, but it faces parliamentary opposition. NATO endorses the U.S. 'Partnership for Peace' plan to broaden alliance.


BRUSSELS — President Clinton on Monday announced agreement with Ukraine and Russia to dismantle Ukraine's entire nuclear arsenal, hailing the long-sought accord as "a hopeful and historic breakthrough that enhances the security of all three participants."

The agreement, disclosed at the NATO summit here and scheduled to be signed in Moscow on Friday, must survive potentially serious opposition by nationalist factions that oppose elimination of the weapons and control the Ukrainian Parliament. But if it survives attack, the accord will represent a substantial step forward for the U.S. policy of curbing nuclear proliferation.

Ukraine, politically and economically unstable since it became an independent state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, has 176 intercontinental missiles armed with some 1,240 nuclear warheads--all aimed at the United States. It also has 592 nuclear warheads aboard bombers, which would be covered by the agreement.

The chaos in Ukraine, while possibly threatening the ability of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to carry out the agreement, also underscores the pact's potential importance. It would allay Russia's fear of a hostile nuclear neighbor and answer concerns that Ukraine's nuclear weapons could wind up in the hands of other countries.

Under the agreement, the United States, Russia and Britain will provide security assurances for Ukraine when it gives up its weapons and becomes an adherent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukraine also will get financial assistance in dismantling the weapons as well as compensation for surrendering the highly enriched uranium in the warheads, which can be converted into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors.

The United States has offered at least $175 million to help pay the actual cost of dismantling the nuclear weapons. The White House said the pact could also lead to a doubling of U.S. economic aid to Ukraine, from $155 million this year to $310 million.

Clinton Administration officials said the payments for uranium would be substantial. And the agreement provides that, in effect, Ukraine will receive fuel rods it needs for its power reactors from Russia now and Russia will be repaid out of the proceeds from the sale of warhead uranium later--another strong incentive for the economically desperate government in Kiev to go forward with the deal.

Meanwhile, as expected, the NATO summit, initiated by Clinton to revitalize the 45-year-old military alliance and redefine its mission in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, endorsed the President's "Partnership for Peace" plan Monday.

The plan provides for enhanced North Atlantic Treaty Organization cooperation with former adversaries of the old Soviet Bloc and for gradually extending NATO membership to them.

The NATO leaders, in a draft of a declaration to be released today, propose that "peacekeeping field exercises" be held beginning later this year with those countries that join the plan. To coordinate joint military activities within the partnership, NATO will invite participating states to send permanent liaison officers to the alliance's headquarters in Brussels.

The plan does not guarantee expanded NATO membership. Nor does it set a timetable for admitting new members. As a result, it falls far short of realizing the hopes of Poland, Hungary and some other East European countries for immediate membership.

But Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the compromise blueprint was endorsed enthusiastically by all NATO members. Based on signals from countries in East and Central Europe, he said, he expects "a very high degree of acceptance" by the former Communist countries as well.

Pointing out that NATO also had endorsed another Clinton initiative placing non-proliferation at the core of the alliance's effort, Christopher said that sitting in the room with other summit participants "one could see and feel the re-emergence of U.S. leadership in this post-Cold War era. This was President Clinton's summit. He called the summit. He developed the three initiatives, which were enthusiastically and unanimously endorsed."

While the Ukrainian Parliament has balked on nuclear arms control issues in the past, Christopher and Clinton said there are strong reasons for Ukraine to endorse the trilateral agreement. And the secretary said the United States believes Kravchuk can implement it through executive order.

Clinton said, "We have no reason to doubt the ability of the president (Kravchuk) to keep the commitment that he is prepared to make."

Kravchuk's press service announced Monday night that an agreement had been reached to hold a "consultative meeting" between Kravchuk and Clinton in Kiev on Wednesday and a trilateral summit with Clinton, Kravchuk and Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin in Moscow on Friday.

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