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Cablegate: Ukraine - Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #2306/01 3291529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241529Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6773
RHEBAAA/USDOE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0031

UNCLAS KYIV 002306

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/PRA: AFRIEDT, ISN/NESS: DFENSTERMACHER
DOE FOR NNSA: ABIENIAWSKI, DHUIZENGA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC ENRG KNNP MNUC PTER TRGY UNVIE
SUBJECT: UKRAINE - DISPOSITION OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM
AT THE KHARKIV INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS AND TECHNOLOGY

1. (SBU) Summary. On November 3, 2008, a DOE delegation
from the National Nuclear Security Administration,s (NNSA)
Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) met with
Academician Boris Paton, President of the National Academy of
Sciences of Ukraine (NASU), to discuss possible USG
assistance on the disposition of highly enriched uranium
(HEU) at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology
(KIPT). During the meeting, Andrew Bieniawski, Director of
GTRI, provided an official NNSA letter to Paton proposing up
to USD 25 million in GTRI funding over four years for
construction of a neutron source facility using low enriched
uranium (LEU) at KIPT in exchange for a Government of Ukraine
commitment to downblend all of the HEU material stored at
KIPT. In anticipation of the USG proposal, Paton wrote on
October 3, 2008 to Prime Minister Tymoshenko seeking Cabinet
of Ministers support to implement the project for
construction of the neutron source facility and downblending
HEU; First Deputy Prime Minister Turchinov has instructed
relevant Ukrainian agencies to work with NASU to draft a
resolution for the Cabinet,s consideration. We will engage
the Cabinet if a decision is not made shortly. End Summary.

Took A Long Time for KIPT to be Convinced
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) For the past six years, GTRI has worked very closely
with technical experts of KIPT and NASU, senior Government of
Ukraine officials, Embassy Kyiv, and the Department of State
to explore options for the disposition of HEU material at
KIPT. The issue was raised on repeated occasions by USG
principals with their Ukrainian counterparts, by the current
and two previous U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, by State
Department officials at bilateral Nonproliferation Working
Group meetings, and was the subject of numerous GTRI meetings
with officials from the Ukrainian government, NASU and KIPT.
Although there is no practical use for HEU material in
Ukraine, the government of Ukraine views the material as a
strategic asset not to be removed from its territory.
Working to find a compromise, GTRI was finally successful in
convincing KIPT and NASU officials to pursue the design and
construction of a neutron source facility that would run on
LEU, downblended on site from KIPT,s HEU stockpile.
Finally, on May 16, 2008, the Vice President of NASU, KIPT,
and NNSA concluded a protocol to develop the scientific
justification for the construction of an LEU-based neutron
source and to downblend KIPT HEU to LEU.

KIPT Fulfills Commitments
-------------------------

3. (SBU) GTRI,s sincere efforts to accommodate KIPT research
needs while maintaining the primary USG nonproliferation
objectives earned them the respect and trust of the KIPT
technical experts and management. In its turn, KIPT has
shown a true spirit of cooperation, completing all its
deliverables related to the cost estimate and scientific
substantiation for construction of the LEU neutron source
facility and downblending of HEU to LEU according to the
schedule outlined in the May 16, 2008 Protocol. These
deliverables formed the basis for NASU to seek Government of
Ukraine approval for disposition of the HEU and for GTRI to
offer funding.

Paton Requests Cabinet Approval
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) In his October 3, 2008 letter to Prime Minister
Tymoshenko, Paton expressed his support for the development
of the neutron source facility at KIPT based on an
accelerator controlled subcritical assembly. Paton also noted
that HEU nuclear materials will be used by converting them to
LEU for use as fuel in this and other research applications.
In his letter, he explicitly requested that Prime Minister
Tymoshenko &instruct relevant executive bodies to review the
design materials and generate proposals for its
implementation.8 (Comment: The letter from Paton is a step
forward as this is the first time that an important and well
respected figure in Ukraine has recommend disposition of the
HEU material at KIPT to the government. Paton plays an
important role in shaping the energy, science, and research
policy of Ukraine and his opinions are sought on such issues.
End Comment.)

Cabinet of Ministers Issues Instructions
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The NASU projects such as HEU downblending
requiring Government of Ukraine authorizations are under the
authority of the Department for Humanitarian Policy of the
Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine that reports to First Deputy
Prime Minister Oleksander Turchinov. In his letter
#49215/1/1-08 dated October 14, 2008, Turchinov issued
instructions to Minister of Fuel and Energy Prodan, Minister
of Science and Education Vakarchuk, and State Nuclear
Regulatory Committee Head Mykolaychuk to work with NASU and
other relevant organizations to develop a resolution for the
Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in response to the October 3,
2008 Paton letter.

GTRI Provides Official Offer
----------------------------

6. (SBU) During a meeting at KIPT on November 3, Bieniawski
provided Paton with an official offer letter that confirmed
GTRI,s willingness to fund up to USD 25 million over a four
year period for construction of an LEU neutron source
facility at KIPT in exchange for downblending of all the HEU
stored there. The letter also noted that U.S. and Ukrainian
technical experts will jointly develop a coordinated,
integrated schedule so as to complete construction of the LEU
neutron source facility and downblending of all fresh HEU
stored at KIPT within four years.

Paton Receives GTRI offer
-------------------------

7. (SBU) Paton welcomed the GTRI offer and noted that it
would help Ukraine establish the state-of-the-art research
infrastructure at KIPT that would support development of the
nuclear power industry, medical isotope production, and
provide capabilities for fundamental and applied research.
This facility would also serve as a &Center of Excellence8
for expanding international cooperation. Bieniawski stressed
the importance for Paton and NASU Director General Nekhludov
to obtain final approval from the Government of Ukraine so
that construction of the neutron source facility and
downblending of HEU at KIPT could begin as soon as possible.

GTRI Offer Transmitted to the Cabinet
-------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Responding to Turchinov,s October 14, 2008
instructions, representatives from the Ministry of Science
and Education asked NASU about the status of construction of
the neutron source facility and downblending of the HEU at
KIPT. Subsequently, Nekhludov requested that the GTRI letter
be officially forwarded to the Cabinet of Ministers. On
November 10, 2008, the GTRI offer was transmitted to PM
Tymoshenko under a cover letter from the Ambassador. The
Ambassador,s letter highlighted the benefits of constructing
the neutron source facility using downblended HEU and
requested an expedited and timely authorization to proceed
with the project.

Kyiv Institute of Nuclear Research Intends to Repatriate its
HEU to Russia
--------------------

9. (SBU) In separate meetings during the November visit,
Director of the Kyiv Institute of Nuclear Research Dr. Ivan
Vishnevsky reiterated the Institute,s intention to seek
repatriation of its HEU to Russia rather than downblending at
Kharkhiv. Vishnevsky indicated that he may have GoU approval
by the end of 2008, which would allow repatriation to Russia
in the near term.

Need Continued Support To Succeed
---------------------------------

10. (SBU) Comment. Both Paton and Nekhludov appeared
genuinely enthusiastic about moving forward with the project
as a means of revitalizing KIPT. However, final approval
from the Government of Ukraine is the next key step and this

may prove to be difficult and elusive. We will engage the
Prime Minister,s office if a response is not forthcoming
shortly.

11. (U) This cable was cleared by Andrew Bieniawski.


TAYLOR

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