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Ukraine: Last Missile Silo Destroyed, Nation 'Nuclear Free'

Pervomaisk, Ukraine; 30 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine military officials today destroyed the country's last remaining nuclear missile silo, the final step in its nuclear disarmament plan. Ukrainian and U.S. civilians triggered explosives in the silo, in an international ceremony which, according to one U.S. official, marked Ukraine as "totally nuclear free."

In the Soviet era, over 170 missile silos in Ukraine were positioned to fire atomic weapons on Western Europe and North America. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited the Soviet weapons, but soon began delivering them to Russia in exchange for economic aid, completing the exchange in the late 1990s. Ukraine began dismantling its weapons infrastructure under the START-1 treaty in 1994.

U.S. ceremony representative John Connell said that the U.S. would continue to financially support weapons reduction in Ukraine, providing funds to repair damage to regions used for nuclear purposes.