On the nuclear weapons capabilities of Ukraine

On the nuclear weapons capabilities of Ukraine

Alexei Ivanov

According to one of the competent d-epartments, Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement at the Munich Security Conference in February 2022 about the possibility of Ukraine acquiring a nuclear status was not accidental. Im-mediately after joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear state in 1994, Ukraine began R&D to form the technological basis for the possible creation of its own nuclear weapons. These works acquired a clearly expressed practical orientation and growing activity in 2014 after the well-known events in Ukraine on the tacit order of Petro Poroshenko, then the President of the country.
Thus, the data available in the SVR testify that R&D on the creation of a nuclear explosive device (NED), which could later be used in the design of nuclear warheads, was carried out both in the uranium and plutonium directions. The scientific community of Ukraine has sufficient competencies to create both “implosive” and “cannon” types of NEDs. Kyiv could also covertly acquire technology from the West for centrifugal uranium enrichment and laser isotope separation.
In addition, to accelerate this R&D, plutonium of the required quality was obtained from abroad at the initial stage. According to available information, the United States has already transferred this material to its partners.
There is reason to believe that in the “Ukrainian case” it was not without the participation of Washington.
The key role in the creation of nuclear explosive devices was assigned to the National Scientific Center “Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology” (NSC KIPT), since the experimental base available there makes it possible to conduct a wide range of studies on the study of nuclear materials, including spent reactor fuel assemblies that can be used to obtain weapons plutonium. At the same time, the neutron physics division of the NSC KIPT carried out calculations of the criticality of nuclear reactors, which are also applicable in the nuclear weapons area.
The Center was assisted in the development of methods for the separation of isotopes of nuclear materials by specialized structures of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in particular, the Institute for Nuclear Research and the Institute of Organic Chemistry located in Kyiv.
The Institute for Nuclear Safety Problems in Chernobyl, the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety in Kyiv and the Institute for Condensed System Physics in Lvov also participated in these works, which have scientific groundwork and the corresponding software and hardware potential in the field of modeling the state of matter.
Separately, it is worth n-oting the use of the Che-rnobyl nuclear power plant zone as a site for the development of nuclear weapo-ns.
It was there, judging by the available information, that work was underway both on the manufacture of a “dirty” bomb and on the separation of plutonium. The increased radiation background natural for the Chernobyl zone concealed the conduct of such work.
The employees of the Odessa National Polytechnic University, who have significant experience in the field of mathematical modeling of the kinetics of thermonuclear reactions, as well as specialized departments of the Kiev National University named after I.I. Taras Shevchenko and the Institute of Physics and Technology of Materials and Alloys of the National Academy of Sciences, specializing in computer modeling in the field of hydrodynamics and continuum mechanics.
Particular attention was paid to the implementation of projects in the field of metallurgy of nuclear materials and technologies for the production of special alloys, which were carried out at the Institute of Electric Welding. E. O. Paton and the Institute of Metal Physics. G. V. Kurdyumova. In addition, the Institute of Problems of Materials Science named after V.I. I. N. Frantsevich and the Physico-Mechanical Institute. S. V. Karpenko, taking into account their experience in the field of special materials, including their anti-corrosion protection and processing.
In this context, it is also noteworthy that in recent years Ukraine has stepped up geological exploration of deep layers in the territory of existing uranium mines, as well as the development of promising uranium deposits, in particular in the Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk and Kirovograd regions. At the same time, Ukrainian representatives initiated a dialogue with foreign companies on rendering assistance to Ukraine in setting up its own uranium enrichment enterprises on the territory of the country. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the hydrometallurgical pla-nt in Zhovti Vody is already processing uranium oxide concentrate from ore mined in Ukraine, which can be used in the process of uranium enrichment in gas centrifuges without additional processing and purification.
At the same time, work was underway in the country to modernize existing and create new missile weapons that can be used as means of delivering nuclear weapons. Moreover, Kyiv “covers” most of these developments by implementing joint projects with other countries.
In particular, in December 2013, an agreement was reached on cooperation in the rocket sphere with Turkey, in which the main role should be played by the Ukrainian rocket and space enterprises Yuzhmashzavod and Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, which previously participated in the creation of the Soviet nuclear missile arsenal. The main goal of this cooperation is the creation of a mobile complex equipped with a solidpropellant ballistic missile range of up to 1,500 km.
Yuzhmashzavod is also developing the Grom-2 mobile ground-based missile system at the expense of Saudi Arabia. In the export version, Grom-2, according to Kyiv, will have a range of up to 280 km. However, according to experts, it is possible to upgrade it in order to increase the firing range over 500 km (according to some estimates, up to 1000 km). Since 2017, the Alibey missile range has been operated in the Odessa region to conduct flight tests of rocket technology.
Implementing for more than two decades programs both in the nuclear and missile spheres, Ukraine has been consistently moving towards the formation of all the necessary conditions for creating its own nuclear weapons. In particular, significant results were achieved in the field of modeling nuclear chain reactions, isotope separation of fissile materials, as well as in the study and metallurgy of nuclear materials.
According to Western experts, the Kyiv regime was closest to creating a nuclear explosive device based on plutonium by secretly obtaining it from spent nuclear fuel stored on the territory of the country. Ukrainian specialists could produce such a device within a few months.
In the context of growing tensions in relations with Russia, the Ukrainian leadership decided to destroy or evacuate all valuable documentation stored in scientific centers in Kyiv and Kharkov to Lviv – to the National University “Lviv Polytechnic”. This was done, among other things, in order to avoid accusations against the Kiev regime about the presence of a weapons component in the “peaceful nuclear program” of Ukraine.
Certain documentation was also available at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. The clashes with Ukrainian DRGs in the administrative premises adjacent to the nuclear power plant were, apparently, connected precisely with this.
Thus, the implementation by Kiev of its extremely dangerous “nuclear Ukraine” project could become a reality in the very near future. It is difficult to overestimate the negative consequences of the danger of the implementation of these works.

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