Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on Upcoming Visit of President Kuchma of Ukraine
The Briefing Room
2:42 P.M. EST
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. I just want to mention we're joined today by a group of journalists from Ukraine who are here under the auspices of the USIA. We've just seen them, and they're standing in the back, and will be observing this background briefing.
Let me give you a little bit of overview about this state visit. This is the fourth state visit that President Clinton has had since taking office. The two major issues that will be discussed -- if you'd like, I can review the schedule. If you don't want to do that, we don't have to do that. You want to do that --and the agreements we expect to sign.
First, let me say this is obviously an important visit for us. Our Ukraine policy over the last 23 months has taken many twists and turns. I think it's fair to say that we began this administration with a somewhat strained relationship with Ukraine, a relationship that was focused primarily on nuclear issues, but a relationship that President Clinton felt from the very beginning was one of the key foreign policy relationships that he had to develop as President.
And if you look at the two central policy issues of this visit, the nuclear future between us and the economic future of Ukraine and what the United States can do to support that future, I think you'll see a lot of growth and a lot of expansion in our relations over the last two years.
To begin with the nuclear issue, coming into this administration the President had a clear goal. He inherited a situation from the last administration, from events in the aftermath of the collapse of communism where there were four countries that had nuclear weapons on their soil. Our intention all along has been to reduce that to one. And the President was able to use the very generous appropriations from the Congress -- the Nunn-Lugar appropriations -- and very intensive diplomacy over this time period to try to move Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus to a point where they would declare themselves, commit themselves to a nonnuclear status.
We're obviously very pleased by the vote last week in the Ukrainian Rata. It allows the President to go to Budapest and to participate in the ceremony there where he, President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Major will extend security assurances to Ukraine, as well as to Kazakhstan and Belarus. And it also allows them to participate in a ceremony to put START I into force. This is a major accomplishment, we think, for the West, and for the United States in particular. My colleague can provide any background on this that you'd like to have.
On economics, it is also fair to say that throughout much of '93 and into this year, we felt in our government that Ukraine was, in many ways, a nation at risk, whose future was at risk because of the failure of the Kravchuk government to dedicate itself to economic reform. And it lived in a region where all of Ukraine's neighbors were reforming, and where the terms of trade and investment with the neighbors in the region and with the West were exceedingly disadvantageous.
We also had a policy at the beginning of this administration that we would not open up the economic relationship with Ukraine, pending the resolution of the nuclear issue. In the Fall of 1993, President Clinton decided that policy was not working well. He sent Secretary Christopher to Kiev in October 1993 to tell President Kravchuk that we would open up a very intensive economic relationship with Ukraine regardless of progress on the nuclear issues.
I think that was the key factor that allowed us, then, to go on in January, '93 to sign the trilateral statement in Moscow on nuclear weapons. It also led President Clinton to commit to $350 million in 1994 of economic assistance to Ukraine, thereby making Ukraine the fourth largest recipient of United States assistance anywhere in the world.
You remember at Naples, President Clinton then led a G-7 initiative to promise that if Ukraine undertook economic reforms, the West would commit up to $4 billion in assistance. Shortly -- the day after the Naples Summit, President Kuchma was elected. And at that time, Ukraine had not made the commitment to economic reform, but he quickly began to put in place a very impressive team of young reformers whom he elevated in the government to ministerial positions.
They designed, with the help of some American economists and some European economists, an impressive economic reform program which has since received the blessing of the IMF; in fact, the very enthusiastic, personal blessing of Michel Camdessus. That has led President Clinton in the last six weeks to pull together an international coalition to support the reform efforts. He personally requested that President Yeltsin of Russia and President Niyazov of Turkmenistan, the two biggest creditors of Ukraine, reschedule in part Ukraine's very large energy debt to those two countries.
President Clinton has also been in touch personally with his G-7 counterparts to ask that Europe and Japan commit to support Ukraine's economic reforms, which we think are the key to the future of this country.
President Clinton has committed and will reaffirm tomorrow that we are going to be putting forward $100 million of assistance for their balance of payments. We have never done this in the past, either in the Bush or the Clinton administrations. We've never used American assistance for direct balance of payment support. We are making an exception in this case because of the unique situation in which Ukraine finds itself, and also I think because of the unique importance of Ukraine to the United States. I'm sure that the President will also commit tomorrow to continue this type of support, both multilateral and bilateral, in 1995.
Our view is that, then, to sum up, that after a rocky start in 1993 and into 1994, we find ourselves with Ukraine probably at the strongest point that we have ever been in our relations with that country. President Kuchma, in our view, deserves a lot of support because he has effectively answered the two biggest questions that confronted him when he took office: Ukraine will be a nonnuclear country, and he is committing himself to that. Ukraine will have a reforming economy, and Ukraine will try to achieve economic and political and security integration with the West while retaining very strong ties to Russia. So he has made the tough decisions that eluded his predecessor.
With that by way of background, let me just say a few words about the schedule, and then we can get to questions. President Kuchma arrived in the U.S. Saturday. He has spent much of the last two days in New York, where he has met on a couple of occasions members of the U.S. business community. The focus there has been on trade and investment. That, we think, is the key challenge for the future, because Ukraine lags behind Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary in attracting Western investment because they haven't been reforming until the last couple of months.
He also saw the U.N. Secretary General this morning. He is arriving now at Andrews Air Force Base. He's being met by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. He'll be staying in Blair House, of course, as a guest of the President.
This afternoon, he will be laying a wreath at the Taras Shevchenko monument a few blocks from here. He then will be traveling over to OPIC on New York Avenue, where OPIC President Ruth Harkin is hosting him for a session with American CEOs designed to stimulate trade and investment. He will be visiting the Holocaust Museum later on this afternoon where he will tour the museum and meet with representatives of the Jewish community. And this evening, he will be giving a reception at the Ukrainian Embassy for the American government officials and others in town who are involved in this visit.
Tomorrow, he will lay a wreath at Arlington National at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He will also lay a wreath at the grave of President Kennedy, tomorrow being the 31st anniversary of the President's death. He will be meeting with Michel Camdessus, Managing Director of the IMF, at Blair House in the morning. And then he will begin his visit with President Clinton. There is an arrival ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on the South Lawn. That will be followed by a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office with President Clinton.
They have never met. President Clinton called him a couple of days after his election. They have spoken I think three times by phone. They've exchanged letters probably seven or eight times. PResident Clinton sent Vice President Gore to Kiev in early August to make this connection with him. So they have exchanged views, but they have never met; and the one-on-one is obviously designed just to give them a chance to get to know each other. They will go from there to a session in the Cabinet Room with advisors -- eight or nine advisors on each side.
There they will focus on economics and specifically, what the United States and the West can do to support these reforms. They will obviously talk about the decision last week by the Rata to ratify the NPT, and they'll discuss European security.
Ukraine was the first country to join the PFP -- the first country in the former Soviet Union. Ukraine has been an enthusiastic participant in early activities of the PFP. The President would like to talk to President Kuchma about both NATO expansion, the upcoming CSCE Summit, and the PFP. That expanded meeting in the Cabinet Room will be followed by a lunch, given by the Vice President over at the State Department, in the Ben Franklin Room on the eighth floor -- a lunch to which many members of Congress have been invited, as well as many members of the Ukrainian-American community and the business community. Following that, there will be a second substantive meeting back here at the White House; this time hosted by the Vice President.
They will discuss the Chernobyl issue, which we are working on intensively with the Ukrainians, space issues and other issues having to do with our technological and business cooperation with Ukraine.
There will then, hopefully by 4:30 p.m., be a joint signing ceremony and press conference in Room 450 -- the East Room, unfortunately, being unavailable for this event. And at that press conference and signing ceremony, I expect that the two Presidents will sign two agreements. The first is a U.S.-Ukraine charter. This is a general agreement which will set the parameters for our future relationship -- security, politics and economics.
They will also sign a bilateral space agreement, which Rose can tell you about. And then they will witness a signing of two other agreements. One is a agreement on trade and investment, which Secretary Ron Brown will sign with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr. Osyka. And the second is an OPIC agreement to encourage an American company to invest in the defense conversion sector, the defense industrial sector in Ukraine. And Ruth Harkin will sign that agreement with an American firm, witnessed by the Ukrainian Minister of Defense.
Tomorrow evening there's a state dinner, hosted by the President and Mrs. Clinton for President and Mrs. Kuchma. On Wednesday Secretary Perry, Secretary Brown and Secretary Bentsen will all have individual meetings at Blair House with President Kuchma. Later in the afternoon, President Kuchma will go to the NASA Goddard Space Center nearby, and he'll be the guest of Dan Goldin, the Director of NASA. There are a few private events on the schedule, including, I think, a lunch at the National Press Club on Wednesday. And then President Kuchma will be leaving Washington for Kiev on Wednesday evening.
So that's the schedule, and the three of us will be glad to take any questions you may have.
Q: On the $100 million balance of payments, how does that square with the $70 million that we pledged before, going up to $100 million if the G-7 agrees to a at-large? And does that include any debt forgiveness, since they're behind on some payments on --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let me just try to give -- for those who haven't been following as closely as you obviously have -- just a summary of the economic side.
President Clinton has committed to $350 million in bilateral economic support for 1994, and a lot of that money will not be spent in 1994, and so it will be spent in '95. That's $350 million.
In addition to that, the President will tell President Kuchma tomorrow that we are going to commit $100 million in balance of payment support to meet their current needs this month, November, December, January, as they begin their reform program.
The Ukrainians have made the argument to us, and the IMF has, that the Ukrainians can't wait for technical assistance to kick in over the next couple of years; they need an immediate transfusion of capital to stabilize their financial situation. And again, we have not done this type of thing in the past, we are making an exception for Ukraine.
In addition to that $100 million, we are asking the European Union to contribute an equal amount. The European Union has not yet made that decision, and we are encouraging them quite vigorously to commit the same amount that we have committed, and we are asking Japan to make a commitment of financial support to this balance of payments effort.
Q: an equal amount?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we have not gotten into the totals with the Japanese. I think it's fair to say an equal amount from the EU would be in order.
Now, in addition to the -- so the $350 million, $100 million -- we are also pledging an additional $100 million in technical assistance support for Ukraine for 1995. So that brings American economic support for Ukraine to over half a billion dollars in 1994 and '95 which, in this day and age, given the budget restrictions under which we operate, we and the Congress, is a significant amount of money, and it shows you the order of importance of Ukraine in our eyes.
Q: Along those lines, a defense minister last week asked for $50 million to house troops, soldiers that are leaving there.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me talk a little bit about the housing issue. And, by the way, it's not only a housing issue, but a retraining issue as well. As the nuclear forces in Ukraine are eliminated, the missiles are eliminated, they are closing down a lot of these bases, and so it's an issue not only of eliminating missiles, but also of getting those strategic rocket forces officers out of the military and into the civilian sector. So it's a matter of retraining them for civilian jobs, and then also we've had a special request from the Ukrainians now for some time to help in the construction of housing for those officers.
There are actually two programs already extant in that regard. One is to actually convert a defense plant for the construction of prefabricated housing, so that there is a conversion aspect to that; and, thus, provide housing units for troops of the 43rd Missile Army in that way. And then there is a second project to build infrastructure and housing units straight out, without the kind of conversion aspect to it.
Now, the Ukrainian -- the Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Shmarov was here last week. They are very interested in some additional housing assistance. And we are looking at that very hard and do expect to provide them some additional housing assistance. I think it will build on what we have so far, which is $20 million for the one project -- that is the project to convert and build housing at Pervomaysk.
Q: $20 million?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- $20 million. And then there is another $10 million that is being spent on housing at a town called Khmelnitsky. These are both strategic rocket forces bases that are being converted. And we are now --
Q: A total of $30 million?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- $30 million so far and --
Q: For conversions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, and they've asked for $50 million overall. We're looking at additional funds. We'd like to get them up as high as we can, so we are looking at that.
Q: They're asking for $50 million above that $30 million?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They are actually asking for funds to move from one part of what we've been doing so far, which is to eliminate some of their missile programs and move that into housing. So we're looking very carefully at how we can manage that. But I would want to underscore for you all that we've already put $30 million into housing for them. And we'll see how high we can go, essentially.
Q: Are they asking for $50 million of new money, or just to transfer --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Transfer.
Q: from the $550 million package that's already out there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it's $350 million in Nunn-Lugar funds overall. And all of that has been laid out, committed to various projects, and they would like for us to move it from one to another area.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You may want to talk about the Nunn-Lugar funding --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My colleague talked about, of course, the funds that we have laid on for the Ukrainians on the bilateral assistance side of things. We also have a very extensive program that we have had for some years now of Nunn-Lugar assistance for Ukraine. We started out with $175 million in assistance to them for the elimination of missiles on their territory -- missiles and silos on their territory -- in addition to some other kinds of projects. For example, the Science Center in Ukraine is funded out of Nunn-Lugar funds. And so those were some of the original projects, and that was really a project to help with the brain drain problem, to take scientists and to help fund some of their research projects so that they would be able to stay in place and work in Ukraine.
So there was an original $175 million, and last March when President Kravchuk came here and, in response to everything they had done in the completion of the trilateral statement last January, we essentially doubled that amount. So there is now a $350 million Nunn-Lugar account for Ukraine.
Q: The $550 million should be increased by $350 million.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The $550 million plus $350 million for the total of American assistance.
Q: So we're talking about $900 million.
Q: That's over two years, not just one year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's right.
Q: Has Yeltsin indeed agreed to forgive that debt that you mentioned?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. Both -- well, let me start with Turkmenistan first. Turkmenistan and Ukraine have agreed on a rescheduling of Ukraine's debt to Turkmenistan for the importation of natural gas. Turkmenistan is a large exporter of that to Ukraine. The Russians and the Ukrainians have an agreement all of the -- there are some loose ends that need to be attended to, so I don't believe it's been signed yet, but there is a gentleman's agreement between the two countries.
Q: It's on rescheduling?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's on rescheduling in part Ukraine's debt to Russia for the importation of both oil and gas. And so we're pleased that Russia, in particular, has decided to join the G-7 effort to help Ukraine over these initial hurdles on the economic reform side. And we think it's quite significant that President Yeltsin has chosen to do that and we congratulate him for it.
Q: Can you give us a quick number on where we're going to be with strategic warheads in the possession of U.S., Ukraine and Russia when we get to Budapest and START I kicks in; and also, a preview of where you think START II will kick in and how quickly?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In terms of warhead numbers, the Ukrainians have done a fantastic job in implementation of the trilateral statement. As you recall, that was signed last January in Moscow among Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Ukraine was committed to send back to Russia for elimination by this time, by November of this year, 200 warheads of all three types of weapons on their territory -- the SS-19 ICBMs, the SS-24 ICBMs, and the air-launched Cruise Missiles. As of today, they have sent back at least 360 warheads to Russia for dismantlement. So they have really been intensively implementing the trilateral statement, in return for which they have received now multiple shipments of fuel rods for their power plants.
Q: How many have they got left after the 360?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: After the 360 have gone back -- well, there are some 1,900 warheads -- there were some 1,900 warheads in Ukraine, so if you subtract the numbers --
Q: So it's 1,900 minus 360?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. Right.
Q: How many are there going to be in Russia when START I kicks in?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, when START I kicks into force -- they have already been taking some -- as we have been doing, they have been taking some unilateral reductions. As far as the United States is concerned, we have taken -- by the end of 1994, we will have taken all our reductions under START I; so we will be down to approximately 6,000 warheads.
In the case of Russia, the last time I looked at this at the time of the Yeltsin summit, there were around 7,500 warheads. I'd have to check; in fact, I've got some numbers coming in today, and if you want to give me a ring, I will probably have a more accurate assessment. But that was -- at the time Yeltsin was here in September, that was the number.
Q: And can you take us down the road with START II?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. When START I is fully in force and implemented, both parties will be down to 6,000 warheads on each side. And, thanks to the arrangements under the Lisbon Protocol, all warheads will be out of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. That is the arrangement under the Lisbon Protocol.
Once START II enters into force, and the plan is to proceed toward ratification of START II and bring it into force when our Presidents next meet, which -- there will be approximately six months' time. That date has not been set. But that was, once again, the agenda agreed at the Yeltsin-Clinton summit in September. When START II is implemented, the numbers will be down to approximately 3,500 on each side.
Q: By the middle of next year, then?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that won't happen by the middle of next year. But once -- that is the goal.
Q: I know START II, but what I'm trying to figure out is when you then reach the 3,000 to 3,500, because both sides have said, we're not going to wait seven years.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q: What's the present scenario for START II?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The agreement is to accelerate that. And we will have to decide with the Russian side how fast we want to accelerate beyond -- to bring it down below the seven-year reduction period.
Q: Do you have a particular view -- whether it ought to be done in one year, three years, five years, instead of seven?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think we'll have to look at what -- in practical terms, what is realistic. And I'm not sure anybody's come to that final decision yet.
Q: In the meantime, how sure are you about the command and control of those weapons, both in Ukraine and Russia?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They are essentially under control of the central -- of the general staff in Moscow still. The operational command and control arrangements have remained precisely the same as they were when the Soviet Union was still intact. So in terms of the command and control system, it remains intact.
Q: And stable as far as you can tell?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q: Can I go back on the economics? Will we be writing off any agricultural debt, that GSM 102? And is Ukraine still in default, and what sort of credit rating do they have?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd be glad to answer this. Then I'd like to have my colleague say a word about the discussions that will occur on European security issues -- NATO, CSCE, PFP.
On economics -- Ukraine had been in default to both the Ex-Im Bank and to USDA for past credits delivered under the Bush administration and the initial couple of months of the Clinton administration.
I am now pleased to report that Ukraine is current with Both Ex-Im and USDA. I do believe we will be extending some credit to Ukraine -- roughly $25 million in credits to purchase U.S. agricultural commodities. And while Ukraine and Ex-Im have not yet begun a new relationship, we hope that will be able to occur in 1995.
Q: But will we write off any -- I mean, because they're current there will be no debt write-offs or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There's no debt writeoff necessary, because they are current in their payments to the United States, to the two credit agencies of the U.S. government.
Q: Just one point. Wasn't there strong communist opposition to Kravchuk? I mean, didn't that hurt him in trying to bring about reforms?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is a very strong anti-reform bloc in the Ukrainian RATA, yes.
Q: And didn't they sort of stymie him?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Kravchuk in the past, you mean?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. I mean, Ukraine has been a divided society. Ever since independence three years ago this coming December 25th, there has been a small bloc that has supported consistently reforms, and a very large bloc that did not -- especially in the Rata. President Kravchuk made some initial attempts to reform economically. He tried to move the ball and he did, a little, certainly on the nuclear side with the trilateral statement -- more than a little. But in hindsight, he did not make the decision that President Kuchma has done to close the chapter on the nuclear question, and to commit to a fundamental and, I would call it, a radical economic reform program very much like Gaydar and Yeltsin did in 1992 in Russia; like the Poles and Hungarians did a year or two before that.
So, in our view, President Kuchma really deserves a lot of credit for having come into office with these two big issues hanging out there and having made very decisive moves on both when he had opposition in the Rata. And frankly, the prevailing view in this government and my own prevailing view was that he wasn't going to be able -- this is back last summer, when he was elected -- move forward on both questions. It would be too hard in terms of his relationship with the Rata.
Well, he's done it. He got the Rata to accede to the NPT; he convinced them last week. And we have to give some credit to the Rata leadership, to Mr. Moroz, for that. And he has a positive vote from the Rata on his economic reform program. Now, this does not mean the society -- there still aren't many views in the society. There are still sizeable anti-reform groups, especially on the economic question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Just a couple of comments on European security. This summit takes place about two to three weeks before several major events which may shape the future of Europe. First, you have the foreign ministers meeting at NATO, which will talk, among other things, about NATO's future; followed four days later by the CSCE summit, where we're going to try to put forth some ideas on strengthening CSCE. And then later, you have the European Union summit. And of course, the European Union is now very focused on the question of its expansion.
This will come up, I think, in the meeting between the President and President Kuchma tomorrow. And President Clinton will want to assure the Ukrainian side that as these processes go forward, it's our objective to ensure that they foster an increasingly integrated Europe. Having torn down the Iron Curtain, we don't want to begin to draw new lines. And one of the things that we will be trying very hard to get to the Ukrainian side is our desire to ensure that as these processes proceed, we're talking about processes which are going to be very gradual, take a number of years to play out -- that the process will be open, it will be transparent.
We'll be prepared to talk to Ukraine about how European security architecture is evolving. And our main objective is to ensure that this does not undercut the security of any country, but in fact, enhances the stability and security of all. And when we say that as a general point, Ukraine is also very specific in our minds, because it certainly is not in our interest for there to be an isolated an uneasy Ukraine in the middle of Central Europe. Certainly not in Ukraine's interest; it's not in that region's interest, and we also believe it's not in Russia's interest as well.
Q: What will be the President's role in Budapest?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In Budapest, he will be presenting some ideas. We've already begun to discuss these in CSCE regarding how we think that the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe should be strengthened and play a more active role in Europe.
Q: You just got through saying you don't want to draw a new line with NATO. At the same time -- and this has been the consistent American position, but the consistent American position has also been that NATO expansion is no longer a question of if, but when. So when you expand NATO, you, by definition, are going to be drawing a new line. Aren't you arguing against yourself? Which is it? Are you going to expand NATO, and if so, won't you draw a new line?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think there are a couple of things to bear in mind about this process. First of all, the NATO that you're talking about today is not the NATO of the first 40 years of its existence, whether it was primarily directed against external threat.
Second, what we have in mind, really, in terms of the dialogue with our NATO allies now is initially talking about the process of expansion, because I think there is a recognition that at this point, we don't have a timetable, we don't have a list of favored countries; that's for discussion a little bit down the road, but we think that this process of NATO expansion can, in fact, be managed in a way that will not only cut the security of those countries which may not be prospects for early membership, but in fact, can enhance their security.
I can't at this point -- it's one of these issues that we've begun to think very hard about in the last couple of months. I don't think we're prepared to draw an exact road map that says this is now you do this. This is how you ensure that European integration proceeds, how NATO expands, and the security of all countries is maintained or enhanced. I think it can be done. We're in the process now of sort of deciding exactly how it is that you do that.
Q: So you're still trying to square the circle?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We're trying to square the circle -- we think it can be squared.
Q: What is the space agreement?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There are actually two parts of what we're doing on space at this summit. The agreement 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, 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.
Q: Was there supposed to be a pledging session in December by the G-7? I mean, do you have a date on that, and would we go any further than what we've done now?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The G-7 had a pledging session in October, and the United States pledged $100 million in that session. There was a conference in Winnipeg hosted by Canada on this. We reaffirmed that pledge. There will be an additional session in December. So we're not going to go beyond the $100 million that we've pledged to that, but we will be doing more in 1995.
Q: Do you have a date on the December pledge, though?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't have a specific date on that; I'm sorry. The IMF would have that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:20 P.M. EST
William J. Clinton, Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on Upcoming Visit of President Kuchma of Ukraine Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269481