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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nunn Puts A Price on Ukrainian Weaponry

U. S. Senator Sam Nunn said Monday that he has offered Ukraine up to $150 million to pay for destroying the country's stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Nunn's announcement coincided with signs that America is also considering an offer of security guarantees to Ukraine, to protect the former Soviet Union's second most powerful republic from nuclear blackmail.

A prominent Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nunn spoke in Moscow after returning with Republican Senator Richard Lugar from visits to Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Most of Nunn's efforts centered on convincing the Ukrainian president, Leonid Kravchuk, to stand by earlier commitments to disarm, leaving Russia the only former Soviet republic with nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine all inherited parts of the Soviet nuclear arsenal as well as Russia. All three countries have agreed in principle to give up their nuclear status.

But Kravchuk, under pressure from a parliament unconvinced of Russia's good intentions, has recently placed conditions on earlier commitments to give up Ukraine's 176 strategic nuclear missiles.

The senators said that while in Kiev they offered Kravchuk $100-$150 on to dismantle and ship the missiles to Russia for destruction.

They also said the United States was ready to guarantee purchase of the fissionable materials extracted from Soviet warheads over the next 20 years.

That deal, they said, could be worth up to $5. 5 billion and all four nuclear republics would get a share of the revenue, in cash or in recycled nuclear fuel for civil use.

A senior Western diplomat in Kiev said Monday that the United States might also meet Kravchuk's second condition for giving up the missiles, namely security guarantees.

Kravchuk asked the two senators for a letter from Western states underwriting Ukraine's security in case of nuclear attack -- presumably by Russia. "The issue is under consideration", said the diplomat.

Nunn said he received assurances from both Kravchuk and the Ukrainian defense minister, Konstantin Morozov, that they would pressure the Ukrainian parliament to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and sign the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty by the end of the year.

The two senators also met President Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin on Monday, where they discussed the upcoming session of the Congress of People's Deputies as well as arms control.

Yeltsin stressed to them that although he was listening to the political opposition, he would not permit the Congress to force him into any drastic change in the direction of reforms.

The two senators are to visit the Belarus capital of Minsk on Tuesday and then return to Washington.