Can the World Learn from the Failure of the Budapest Accords?Breaking News
tags: nuclear weapons, Russia, Ukraine, post-soviet history, Budapest Accords
Nuclear non-proliferation and preventing war — stopping or even reversing the spread of nuclear weapons across the world and preventing the invasion of one country by another — is right up there with doing something about climate change in terms of guaranteeing a future that includes safety and security for the people of our planet.
Right now we’re engaged in negotiations with Iran, for example.
Since Trump stupidly and single-handedly pulled the US out of the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal, we and the other countries negotiating the deal (Britain, France, China, Germany, Russia, and the US) are trying to assure Iran that we’ll protect them in the event, say, Saudi Arabia or Israel decide to try to take them out.
It’s not going so well, and part of the reason is the failure of the “Budapest Memorandum” of 1994, an agreement worked out just three years after the Soviet Union dissolved and Ukraine again became an independent nation.
Through much of that year the UK, US, and Russia met repeatedly with Ukraine through a venue in Budapest provided and blessed by the UN to try to secure and remove from Ukraine the world’s third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Ukraine had inherited from the old Soviet Union a massive collection of nukes, including almost two thousand SS-19 and SS-24 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Between 1991 and 1994, Ukraine had the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
Each of those thousands of missiles had warheads containing nuclear bombs in the 400-550 kiloton range: each missile’s warhead was 27 to 37 times more powerful than the weapons we used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This Ukrainian stash of nuclear weapons was six times the size of what China has today, capable of destroying — both because of the missiles’ ranges and the size of the warheads — every town and city in the United States with more than 50,000 people, as The Brookings Institution notes, “three times over, with warheads left to spare.”
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