“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
January 28, 2004
Ukraine Ratifies ABM Succession MOU

On January 30, Ukraine ratified a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that designates Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine as the successor states to the Soviet Union for the purposes of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The four former Soviet republics and the United States must approve the 1997 MOU before it and several related agreements signed at the same time can enter into force.

The related agreements include two statements that demarcate the technical boundaries between theater missile defenses, which are not banned by the ABM Treaty, and strategic missile defenses, which are limited by the treaty. The package also includes an agreement on confidence-building measures that calls for annual exchanges of information and notification of theater missile defense tests.

The Ukrainian parliament approved the agreement by a vote of 294-1 on January 11 and President Leonid Kuchma signed legislation ratifying it 19 days later, according to a U.S. official. Russia approved the MOU last spring, but Belarus and Kazakhstan have yet to do so, and prospects for U.S. ratification appear slim.

In the absence of the MOU's entry into force, the U.S. government has accepted Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union for the purposes of the treaty. Nevertheless, a number of senators maintain the ABM Treaty was invalidated with the Soviet Union's 1991 collapse.