1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

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The 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a series of political agreements between the UK, the United States, and Russia, that provided for assurances in non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The meetings resulted in the nuclear disarmament of Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine.

At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, on the territory of Ukraine were stationed the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including an estimated 1,800 strategic warheads, 176 long-range ballistic missiles, and 42 strategic bombers. Command and control of the weapon facilities however were held by Moscow.

To solidify security commitments to Ukraine, the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom signed the December 5, 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. The memorandum included assurances against the threat or use of force against Ukraine's territory or political independence. The countries promised to respect the sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine.

The United States took custody and control of Ukraine's obsolete nuclear stockpiles for disposal in exchange for assurances by the United States and NATO to safeguard Ukraine's independence. Ukraine was paid to give up the nuclear weapons stationed on its territory in exchange for a written pledge, should Ukraine ever be threatened or invaded, the United States would be there to intervene with military power.

When the United States took custody of the weapons stockpile, the nuclear materials were 105% of what the accompanying paper inventory control logs stated, reflecting the unreliableness and corruption of the Soviet accounting and record keeping system. No one had any idea how much nuclear material had actually ever been produced, or where other unaccounted for materials may be located.

By 1996, Ukraine had returned all of its operational nuclear warheads to Russia in exchange for economic aid and security assurances, and Ukraine became a non-nuclear weapon state party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The last strategic nuclear delivery vehicle in Ukraine was eliminated in 2001 under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It took years of political maneuvering and diplomatic work, starting with the Lisbon Protocol in 1992, to remove the weapons and nuclear infrastructure from Ukraine.[1]