WASHINGTON (CNN) – Ukraine has agreed to get rid of its highly enriched uranium stockpile in the next two years, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Monday.
In an interview with CNN earlier Monday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said most of his nation's highly enriched uranium would be gone by the end of 2010.
"The Ukraine has quite a number of power plants and various universities and research institutes where we are trying to understand to best utilize nuclear in a peaceful means," Yanukovich said in the interview with CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty. "We are working on it. However, we are already taking the necessary step to remove highly enriched uranium from the country. By the end of this year, Ukraine is going to have the larger part of this uranium taken out of the country."
Yanukovich indicated in the interview that the final destination of the uranium could be Russia. However, Gibbs told reporters the final destination had yet to be determined.
The United States will provide financial and technical assistance to Ukraine to get rid of its highly enriched uranium, Gibbs said.
According to Gibbs, the uranium that Ukraine will give up is enough to construct several nuclear weapons. He said Ukraine would convert its nuclear energy facilities to operate on low-enriched fuel.
The announcement followed a bilateral meeting between Yanukovich and President Barack Obama before the start of a two-day global summit on nuclear security.
Gibbs said Ukraine would complete the removal of its highly enriched uranium by the time of the next nuclear security summit, which is scheduled to be held in 2012.