THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release: November 21, 1994


BACKGROUND BRIEFING

BY

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS

ON UPCOMING VISIT OF PRESIDENT KUCHMA OF UKRAINE


The Briefing Room


Excerpt:

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There are actually two parts of what we're doing on space at this summit. The agreement [signed at a White House ceremony on Tuesday, 22 November] that the two presidents will sign is almost exactly the same as the agreement that was signed in June of 1992 between President Bush and President Yeltsin. It is a civil space cooperation agreement for work on science and related issues between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Ukrainian National Space Agency. We really look on this as a fantastic opportunity to begin to work in one of the most advanced aerospace sectors in the world, really, so I think it is a great opportunity for NASA to learn from what the Ukrainians have been able to accomplish.

I'll give you a specific example of that, and that is NASA in the last week has concluded an agreement with the Ukrainian Space Agency to use welding technology that was developed by the Paton Institute in Kiev. And this is an extremely advanced way to do welding outside if you're up in the shuttle, for example, to do it outside the shuttle, which is something we've never been able to do before. And so that's an example of the kind of technologically advanced capabilities the Ukrainians have, and that we are now beginning to tap into with this civil space cooperation agreement. That's on the one hand.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians are very interested in expanding into commercial launch markets. And we have taken the view with them that as they get up and over the nonproliferation barrier that we are very willing to talk to them about where they go with commercial launch capabilities. They have two very good launchers that are built in Ukraine as -- launchers that also take advantage of a lot of Russian components as well. So there's a kind of joint development and construction programs for those systems.

To take into account their interests, bearing in mind that we were very eager to see them first establish themselves as responsible nonproliferation partners with their accession to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Ukraine's Supreme Rada on 16 November], we have begun to talk to them about a commercial launch relationship with them, and so that we will essentially be announcing at the summit a series of talks to develop prospects for Ukrainian participation on commercial launch.

Q What part of that is predicated on their reaching at some point a nonproliferation agreement?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it's important to know two things. First of all, they've already come a tremendous distance. Last May, the Ukrainians agreed with us bilaterally to adhere to the guidelines of the missile technology control regime. This is a bilateral memorandum that was signed back in May by the Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister Shmarov. At that time, he had not yet acquired the portfolio of Minister of Defense. This essentially means that for purposes of U.S. law, Ukraine is adhering to MTCR guidelines, and we have a process of working with them already established to move them toward full partnership in the MTCR.

Clearly, this is an area where the MTCR is a multilateral regime, so the other partners have to agree to that as well. But I think it's fair to say that Ukraine has already taken some important steps -- that bilateral MOU is one, but also extremely important was their agreement to adhere to the Nonproliferation Treaty. Until they got up and over that barrier, we really could not move very far. And when the vote to adhere happened last Wednesday, I think it's fair to say that it opened an important door for the Ukrainians, and now we're ready to move rapidly ahead on this whole issue.