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U.S. still paying to clean up Chernobyl

25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the United States is still paying hundreds of millions of dollars to help clean up the site. Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington has been holding a series of events to commemorate the disaster, including a conference on April 21 and an event Monday night on the embassy grounds. Assistant ...

Jamie Mannina / State Department
Jamie Mannina / State Department
Jamie Mannina / State Department

25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the United States is still paying hundreds of millions of dollars to help clean up the site.

Ukraine's Embassy in Washington has been holding a series of events to commemorate the disaster, including a conference on April 21 and an event Monday night on the embassy grounds. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, the highest ranking U.S. official at Monday's event, spoke about the ongoing effort to secure the site, which still remains dangerous a quarter-century later.

"The United States -- in concert with our G-8 partners and the international community -- remains committed to helping Ukrainians bring the damaged Chernobyl nuclear facility to an environmentally safe and secure condition," she said.

25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the United States is still paying hundreds of millions of dollars to help clean up the site.

Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington has been holding a series of events to commemorate the disaster, including a conference on April 21 and an event Monday night on the embassy grounds. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, the highest ranking U.S. official at Monday’s event, spoke about the ongoing effort to secure the site, which still remains dangerous a quarter-century later.

"The United States — in concert with our G-8 partners and the international community — remains committed to helping Ukrainians bring the damaged Chernobyl nuclear facility to an environmentally safe and secure condition," she said.

Gottemoeller said the U.S. government had already given over $240 million to help clean up the Chernobyl site and that, last week, a U.S. delegation to Ukraine led by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski pledged an additional $123 million toward completing the construction of a new confinement shelter to cover the aging sarcophagus, which was designed to block the release of radiation from the plant, and a storage facility for spent fuel at the site. 

Ukraine has become a leader in nuclear safety and nuclear responsibility, she stated, through its decision to abandon nuclear weapons in 1994 and its 2010 decision to give up its stockpiles of highly enriched uranium. In return, the United States has expanded its nuclear cooperation with Ukraine, including helping the country construct a "neutron source facility" that will advance nuclear scientific and medical research.

With the world now facing a new crisis due to the partial meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, Gottemoeller emphasized that the risks of nuclear power are shared by all.

"The events at Fukushima, just like the events at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, remind us once again that nuclear safety recognizes no boundaries," she said.

In the above photo, taken at the Ukraine Embassy event, Gottemoeller is flanked by Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (left), and Ukrianian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk (right).

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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