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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Destroys Nuke Facilities

ReutersThe boys preparing to turn the keys to destroy the missile silo in Ukraine on Tuesday.
KIEV — Ukraine destroyed its last nuclear missile silo on Tuesday, fulfilling the nation's pledge to give up the vast nuclear arsenal it inherited after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

The silo was blown up at a military range in the southern Mykolaiv region near Pervomaisk, Interfax said. The U.S.-Ukrainian Cooperative Threat Reduction Program oversaw the process.

A team of U.S. and Ukrainian officials joined three schoolchildren in turning six keys to detonate the explosives that destroyed the nuclear missile silo, the last of 46 to be dismantled. The land beneath the silo is to be cleaned and converted for agricultural use, officials said.

"So far, Ukraine confirmed its commitment to secure peace and stability, and made a significant contribution to strengthening the international regime of arms nonproliferation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Borodenkov.

Ukraine inherited the world's third-largest nuclear stockpile with the 1991 Soviet collapse, including 130 SS-19 missiles, 46 SS-24 missiles and dozens of strategic bombers. It later renounced nuclear weapons and transferred all missiles and its 1,300 nuclear warheads to Russia. After processing, nuclear materials from the warheads were brought back to Ukraine as fuel for power plants.

In 1997, Ukraine and the United States signed a treaty on U.S. assistance in dismantling 38 Tu-160s and Tu-95s bombers and more than 480 Kh-55 air-launched cruise missiles. The last two bombers were gutted in February.

Ukrainian officials said they had received security guarantees from Russia, the United States, Britain, China and France and financial assistance from foreign governments to assist disarmament.

All work in the disarmament program is to be completed by Dec. 4.