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Ukraine to remove uranium stocks, White House says

Ukraine to remove uranium stocks, White House says

Following the first ever meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and newly minted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the two sides announced that Ukraine will give up its stores of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

It’s not the first victory for the Obama administration at this week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, which hasn’t even officially started yet. Kazakhstan Sunday agreed to allow the U.S. planes direct overflight of its territory for military equipment headed to Afghanistan.

But it is the first in what State Department sources say will be a series of announcements by countries on steps they will take unilaterally to address the threat that the summit was convened to address: the risk of nuclear material falling into the wrong hands.

Yushchenko congratulated Obama on the signing of the "New START" nuclear reductions treaty with Russia. Ukraine was instrumental in implementing the old START treaty, at least since 1994 when the country agree to give up its nuclear weapons.

Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European Affairs, was in the Obama-Yushchenko meeting, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Ukraine will get rid of all its HEU by 2012 and convert all of its facilities to operate with low-enriched uranium.

"This is something that the United States has tried to make happen for more than 10 years," he said. "The material is enough to construct several nuclear weapons."

Take a look at the White House’s fact sheet on the announcement here (pdf).