The reason for the emergence of such serious proposals were the recent events around the Crimea, which the authors of the bill call the “military aggression of the Russian Federation”. In addition, parliamentarians refer to the so-called. Budapest Memorandum, signed in December 1994. In accordance with this document, official Kiev refused nuclear weapons, while Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States assumed a number of obligations related to the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. Now, according to the authors of the bill, Russia has violated the terms of the Budapest Memorandum and sent troops into Ukrainian territory. Since Russia has large stocks of nuclear weapons, a group of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada offer to take advantage of Article X of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to withdraw from the agreement, as participation in it can have negative consequences for the country's interests.
In addition to participating in the preparation of the bill, MP S. Kaplin, who holds the post of secretary of the relevant committee on national security and defense, made an important statement about some of the consequences of withdrawing from international agreements. According to him, Ukraine can and should create its own nuclear weapons, which will be designed to deter potential opponents from attack. On the 112 Ukraine TV channel, MP Kaplin spoke about his consultations with experts and made the appropriate conclusions. He believes that Ukraine has almost all the necessary equipment and technologies for the production of its own nuclear weapons: it will take two years to fully resume production, and the program cost will be approximately equal to 3,4 billion US dollars.
Thus, the withdrawal from the NPT will allow Ukraine to begin relevant scientific and design work, the result of which should be the start of the production of relevant weapons. Having become a nuclear power, Ukraine will be able to ensure its security using well-established mechanisms of the so-called. nuclear deterrence. In this way, it is proposed to protect the state from possible attacks by third countries.
Objects of Nuclear Infrastructure of Ukraine (c) State Committee for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine via Ukraine Metropolitan Portal (UTAG)
Technology and production
S. Kaplin argues that Ukraine has all the capabilities to create nuclear weapons with the exception of centrifuges. All the rest necessary for the creation and development of nuclear weapons is available and can be used. Moreover, the state of this “material part” is such that it allows the production of atomic ammunition to begin in the next few years.
It should be noted that Ukraine does have some technologies in the nuclear field. First of all, it is a developed nuclear power industry. The four nuclear power plants used have a total of 15 power units. The generated power of more than 13 thousand megawatts provides almost half of the total needs of the country. In the middle of the last decade, plans were being developed to modernize nuclear energy, according to which it was supposed to build at least 10 new power units on the territory of Ukraine. This would allow the country to decommission several old power units, as well as improve the overall industry performance. It was planned to carry out the construction of new power units and nuclear power plants with the assistance of Russian specialists.
In addition, Ukraine has its own uranium reserves - more than 60 thousand tons. Nuclear power plants of the country consume about 2800 tons of fuel per year, and the annual production level does not exceed 950-960 tons. There are plans to increase production, but in the future, apparently, Ukraine will have to continue to buy fuel for nuclear power plants abroad. In the 2010, the Ukrainian national company "Energoatom" signed a contract with the Russian "TVEL" a contract under which the latter up to 2030 years will supply finished fuel assemblies. At the expense of these and previous deliveries, the difference between the required amount of nuclear fuel and that produced is covered.
Ukrainian enterprises only allow servicing nuclear power plants in operation. Other areas of the nuclear industry are not yet available for Ukrainian industry. For understandable reasons, the lack of appropriate technologies and enterprises will not allow Ukrainian specialists to immediately begin production of ready-to-use nuclear weapons. First, they will have to conduct a lot of research work that will allow the construction of experimental equipment to begin. Debugging of the latter, in turn, will also be associated with serious difficulties that directly affect the timing and cost of the entire nuclear program. Thus, the actual duration and cost of work can be several times higher than the values stated by S. Kaplin.
Ukraine’s military nuclear program will have to start virtually from scratch, which can take years or even decades to work, and the total cost of all projects will easily reach the level of several tens of billions of dollars. As a confirmation of this assumption, we can consider the corresponding programs of the nuclear powers that have received this status in recent decades, or countries trying to develop nuclear weapons. For example, the first Iranian nuclear reactor appeared in 1967 year, but the country still has not built any nuclear bomb, although, according to some sources, already has the necessary amount of enriched uranium. The total costs of Iran’s entire nuclear program are estimated at 40-50 billions of dollars, not counting the losses from economic sanctions. The development of the Iranian nuclear industry is constantly causing claims from third countries, which is why Iran is regularly subjected to various sanctions. The DPRK, which built a certain number of nuclear warheads and announced this, has complicated its already difficult situation in the international arena.
By itself, a nuclear weapon is useless and needs a means of delivery to the target. Nuclear warheads of various types can be delivered to the target with missiles, aircraft, submarines or artillery. The events of the past decades have had an extremely negative impact on the Ukrainian armed forces, which is why the search for suitable delivery vehicles turns out to be a very difficult task. For example, the naval forces of Ukraine do not have ships or submarines that, at least in theory, can carry missile weapons with a nuclear warhead.
Having abandoned nuclear weapons in the early nineties, Ukraine was forced to write off strategic bombers. A considerable number of Tu-95 and Tu-160 aircraft were sent for recycling, some were transferred to Russia on account of debts. At the moment, the only Ukrainian Air Force bomber that may be capable of carrying a nuclear bomb is Su-24M. The total number of aircraft of this type in the air force does not exceed 80 units, and two thirds of the bombers are in storage. All existing Su-24М were built before the collapse of the Soviet Union, because of which their resource comes to an end, and the state of most of the technology leaves much to be desired.
Thus, at the time of its appearance, the hypothetical Ukrainian aviation an atomic bomb may be left without a carrier. It is not necessary to exclude the possibility of appropriate refinement of other types of aircraft, however, this can significantly complicate the program for equipping the Air Force with nuclear weapons. In addition, the question of the resource of technology remains relevant. Another way to solve the problem with promising weapons carriers is to purchase equipment abroad. The least likely - if not impossible - decision is to consider Ukraine creating its own project of a strike aircraft with the corresponding capabilities.
The ground forces of Ukraine have several dozen different operational-tactical missile systems. The newest of them are “Tochka” and “Tochka-U”, built in Soviet times. As of 2010, there were more than 90 complexes of these types in the army and in storage. Until 2011, there were several dozen Elbrus missile systems at the Ukrainian storage bases, but by now all of them have been utilized. The same fate awaited the remaining launchers and missiles of the Luna-M complex.
Despite the small number, operational-tactical missile systems of the “Tochka” family can be used as a means of delivering advanced Ukrainian nuclear weapons. However, such means of delivery are not without drawbacks. The equipment built in the USSR over the years has become outdated morally and materially. In addition, the missile characteristics of the Tochka and Tochka-U missiles may not be sufficient to effectively accomplish the tasks of nuclear deterrence. Thus, the maximum firing range of the Tochka-U missile complex is equal to 120 kilometers. With such characteristics, these missile systems can be effectively used only at the operational-tactical level, but not for strategic deterrence.
Until the middle of last year, the Dnepropetrovsk Yuzhnoye design bureau conducted work on the Sapsan project. In the course of this project, which started at the end of the two thousandth, it was supposed to create a missile system with a ballistic missile firing range up to 280 kilometers. In addition, the complex "Peregrine Falcon" was supposed to be able to use anti-aircraft missiles with a range of up to 150 km and anti-ship ammunition with a range of up to 90 km. At the beginning of 2012, it became known that the first version of the Sapsan complex could only use ballistic missiles. History The project ended in the summer of 2013, when the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, P. Lebedev, announced the termination of work. According to him, in five years the military department allocated more than 200 million hryvnias, but the creators of the project could not even prepare the necessary documentation. The project was closed due to inefficient use of budget funds and lack of prospects.
It is noteworthy that the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau at one time developed a large number of intercontinental ballistic missile projects that were in service with the Strategic Missile Forces of the Soviet Union. However, the collapse of the superpower led to a break in the mass of ties between various enterprises, and Ukraine’s refusal of nuclear weapons put an end to the construction of intercontinental missiles. Such weapons could be a promising means of delivering nuclear weapons and, as a result, a tool to deter potential adversaries. However, the resumption of production of such systems is not possible.
Theoretically, the Ukrainian ground forces can use tactical nuclear weapons. It is known that in Ukraine there are hundreds of self-propelled artillery "Acacia", "Hyacinth", "MSTA-S" and "Peony" 152 and 203 mm caliber. In addition, Ukraine has a large number of towed guns caliber 152 mm. Such weapons can use artillery shells with a nuclear warhead. However, the creation of a nuclear weapon in the dimensions of an artillery projectile is a rather complex technical task. In addition, the range of artillery, despite the high power of nuclear weapons, does not exceed several tens of kilometers. Thus, the artillery will not be able to perform the tasks of nuclear deterrence.
16 July 1990, the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The ninth section of the document described the general principles of the defense strategy of a future independent state. Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the future intended to be a neutral state, and not to engage in military organizations, as well as adhere to the three non-nuclear principles: not to accept nuclear weapons, not to produce it and do not buy from third countries. All subsequent documents relating to Ukraine’s nuclear weapons were created taking into account the relevant provisions of the Declaration on State Sovereignty.
In 1994, independent Ukraine acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which was enshrined in the relevant decision of the Verkhovna Rada of November 16. At the same time, the law on accession to the NPT provided for some reservations. Ukraine reserved the right to withdraw from the treaty if a nuclear power threatened or used force against its territorial integrity or political independence. In addition, attempts to put economic pressure on the country were mentioned as the reason for withdrawing from the treaty.
Nearly 20 years after the signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada propose to withdraw from it. Such a step will undoubtedly have a lot of negative consequences of a legal nature. The withdrawal from the NPT with the subsequent start of the development of nuclear weapons directly contradicts the Declaration of State Sovereignty adopted in 1990. However, these contradictions will be only an internal problem of the country, which in its scale can not be compared with the likely negative reaction of foreign countries.
Since 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been signed by almost all countries of the world. So far, Israel, India and Pakistan have not joined the agreement. The last two countries officially acknowledged the development and construction of nuclear weapons. The Israeli nuclear program is classified, but there is every reason to believe that Israel has a certain amount of nuclear weapons. The positions of Israel, India and Pakistan are regularly criticized by the states that have signed the NPT.
Two states officially participating in the NPT have been convicted, at least, in attempts to create nuclear weapons. Because of such suspicions, Iran has repeatedly been subjected to various sanctions. The DPRK was about to withdraw from the NPT, but the UN is still considering it as a party to the agreement. Having developed nuclear weapons, the DPRK remained in isolation and, apparently, is unlikely to be able to establish good relations with foreign countries.
As we see, attempts to denounce the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons provoke a corresponding reaction from the world community. It is worth noting that the United States of America is one of the most active defenders of the NPT and its provisions. The states of Europe are very active in tracking the possible emergence of new nuclear powers. Thus, Ukraine’s attempts to withdraw from the NPT and create its own nuclear weapons could lead to sanctions from European and American states, as was the case with Iran.
Wishes and opportunities
The draft law of the Ukrainian deputies on withdrawal from the NPT and the proposal to develop their own nuclear weapons at first glance appear to be the result of violent emotions associated with the difficult situation in the country. However, in these sentences there is a rational grain. Ukraine is the largest state in Europe and therefore needs powerful and modern armed forces. Nuclear weapons are indeed capable of cooling hotheads and deter a potential adversary from attacking a country.
Nevertheless, during all the years of independence, Ukraine constantly experienced various difficulties of an economic nature. The result was a weakening of the armed forces and the deterioration of the defense industry. For this reason, the development of nuclear weapons is an extremely bold and ambitious, but unlikely project. Such a program will require a huge investment of time and money. In the current situation, the start of a nuclear program is a lower priority in comparison with a number of other urgent tasks. In addition, the arguments against the start of the nuclear program are the high costs of various projects and possible sanctions.
Nevertheless, the possibility that Ukraine will be able to create its own nuclear weapons and then build strategic nuclear forces cannot be ruled out. However, the state of the economy, industry and the armed forces of the country directly indicates that the implementation of such plans will require not the promised two years, but by an order of magnitude longer. Similarly, the cost of a nuclear program may change, having increased from the declared 3,4 billion dollars to the actual 30-40 billions. At the same time, one should not forget the general state of the armed forces, which in the future will have to use hypothetical nuclear weapons. Finally, legal problems will certainly arise in the way of the Ukrainian nuclear program.
Any of these factors — the cost of a nuclear program, the cost of related projects, and possible sanctions from the international community — can put an end to current plans. Will Ukraine take such risks - time will tell. The draft law on the denunciation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will be considered as soon as possible. The decision to start a military nuclear program can also be made in the coming months or even weeks.
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