Memoirs ex-the Minister of Defence of the USA about trips to Pervomaisk

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Ukraine was born as the state possessing of about 2.000 units of the nuclear weapon. If Ukraine kept them, this new state about which many Americans at all didn't hear, would become the third most powerful on the earth the nuclear power after Russia and the United States and would have much more nuclear warheads, than China, France or the United Kingdom.

In March, 1994 thawing snowdrifts outlined hilly fields round Pervomaisk. The helicopter of the Ukrainian Air Force by which we flied, overcame a chilling wind and landed in dirt at top of a lonely height.

We were accepted by the general Vitaly Radetsky - the Minister of Defence proclaimed two years ago the independent state of Ukraine - one of fifteen republics of the former Soviet Union. Here, in the territory of "a granary of the USSR", this hill almost differed nothing from others, if not a barbed wire and the armor doors erected almost level with it. Radetsky led us through one of armor doors to the concrete bunker where on the small elevator size about a phone booth we fell to a dim corridor. At the end of it the room of the modest sizes - the control center of nuclear missiles took place.

We were the first Americans who have visited object on which as Radetsky explained, 700 nuclear warheads took place. In all wall of the command center the map of the United States hung. On other card Europe was represented. Small dot sparks on the card represented the purposes of the nuclear warheads controlled from the center. Some sparks were disconnected, but the majority on - former shone.

Two young orderly officers in a military uniform of the Armed forces of Ukraine created recently stood at attention at arms on start of rockets. Beds and samovar testified: they settled here for a long time. Officers obviously were nervous. On - visible, them warned that we are very important guests, and they started "demonstration and explanations".

Began with the communication equipment, then consistently showed how start-up of rockets is made, without having executed only commands of pressing of the button. We watched counting of time and stared at the purposes which have been brightly shined on the card, - at the cities in Germany and England, Kansas and Oregon. On the basis of data which the American investigation diligently collected for decades of cold war, we knew that on similar objects start-up of the Soviet MBR with the nuclear warheads aimed at the United States would be carried out. All of us analyzed and prepared development how to support fragile balance on which nuclear intimidation was based. And still never the balance of fear seemed to none of us so real and terrifying, as at this moment.

The general Radetsky moved us through the hill to other heavy armor door. It was open and conducted in one of the rocket mines constructed for intercontinental ballistic missiles
CC-24 with the nuclear warheads controlled from the command center which we just left. We glanced inside. Earlier we saw pictures of the Soviet MBR defiling on May parades in Moscow on Red Square, saw even satellite pictures of rocket mines in Pervomaisk. But now before us the rocket which we carefully studied as professionals appeared. For so many years it was object of defensive researches and caused big concern. Now the nuclear balance of fear of times of cold war really ended.

We didn't see ten nuclear warheads which usually had to be in the top part of the rocket CC-24. According to the tripartite agreement reached between Ukraine, Russia and the United States on destruction of the nuclear weapon of Ukraine, the rocket were shipped on the train and are sent back, to the enterprise to Russia where they were created where them dismantle and will destroy. It was clear why on the card with the designated purposes all sparks shone not. The American cities any more weren't a target of these rockets. The nuclear weapon aimed at them was eliminated. Nuclear disarmament of Ukraine began.

Ukraine - the state which has been given rise nuclear

When the USSR, on the Ukrainian earth which any more wasn't Soviet broke up, not less than 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles CC-19 and CC-24 took place. All of them were carriers of multicharging warheads, during cold war they were called by MIRV.Ukraine got also part of the most modern Soviet bombers and the arsenal of nuclear cruise missiles of distant radius of action intended for them. Ukraine was born as the state possessing of about 2.000 units of the nuclear weapon. If Ukraine kept them, this new state about which many Americans never at all didn't hear, would become the third most powerful on the earth the nuclear power after Russia and the United States and would have much more nuclear warheads, than China, France or the United Kingdom. It would be the largest kickback in the history of non-proliferation of the nuclear weapon.

Therefore Clinton's administration put forward as the major priority deprivation of Ukraine this killing heritage. Participation of Russia as warheads needed to be returned there for their elimination was key. To us it was especially remembered as there were first tripartite negotiations. In December, 1993 we accompanied vice-the president Ala Gore on one of meetings with Russian the prime minister - the minister Victor Chernomyrdin, occurring each half a year. In our first Moscow evening we heard stunning news about unexpected resignation of our boss - the Minister of Defence Les Aspin. The most part of time we thought that expects us, talked to friends and native.

After restless night we joined to vice-to the president Gore and Stroubu Talbot - the chief adviser to the president Clinton for the former Soviet Union (later - to the Deputy US Secretary of State) who advised us to continue mission, as well as was planned. After departure from Moscow we intended to visit Macedonia for inspection of the American armies which were carrying out there peacekeeping mission. Therefore suggested to stop at first at Kiev, to take with itself a Russian team and to hold tripartite negotiations what to do with the nuclear weapon. Gore discussed the plan with Chernomyrdin who willingly agreed on it and sent with us Talbot, and Chernomyrdin - the only representative of Russia Georgy Mamedov. Mamedov was the chief negotiator with Americans from the USSR, and now - from Russia, and was held at us in respect. Mamedov and Talbot together with us sat down aboard the plane the Ministries of Defence of the USA. Late at night we arrived to Kiev.

At tripartite negotiations we appeared in an awkward diplomatic situation: to whom what place to occupy? Eventually we got out of it:Americans sat down on the one hand a table, Ukrainians - with another, and Mamedov settled alone at the end of a table … The main points of the agreement were defined soon. Then Perry left, having assigned development of details to Carter and others. There came midnight, former uncertainty and sleeplessness started affecting Carter. Soon after Perry's departure he fell asleep in a meeting room. Of it with a venomous jeer it will be reminded many times by Ukrainians and Russians, and most often Talbot.

In January, 1994 in Moscow the President Bill Clinton, the President Boris Yeltsin and the President Leonid Kravchuk signed the tripartite agreement. But this agreement on nuclear disarmament of Ukraine caused inconsistent reaction in the Ukraine where some considered that for ensuring the safety the new state needs the nuclear weapon. Besides its elimination was a huge and expensive task. According to the schedule offered by Ukraine, this process would take seven years. Too long term for the uneasy Post-Soviet states of Ukraine and Russia. Whether the tripartite agreement will be carried completely out? We considered that the answer to this question had paramount importance for the American and international security and demanded the maximum efforts of the Ministry of Defence of the USA.

So some months later after signing of this agreement we for the first time went to Pervomaisk for adjustment of cooperation with the Ukrainian military. Having gone down in the command rocket center, we with horror felt that we can't miss the given opportunity for implementation of the program of preventive defense. For the next two years we will visit together Pervomaisk four times, and Carter will make many additional trips within the huge efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Defence of the USA and directed on elimination of the nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Second trip: protection by other means

For the second time we came back to Pervomaisk a year later, in April 1995-го, for supervision over implementation of the measures taken on year before. Now we saw how the crane lifted directly from mine the rocket CC-19 (nuclear warheads on it any more wasn't). It was similar to slow rocket firing. Soon the huge object height in some floors towered over our heads. It was the symbol of the come true efforts of the Pentagon on assistance to Ukraine in work implementation.Toxic fuel after removal from mines will be pumped in the tanks delivered by the Ministry of Defence of the USA according to programs which we pushed through bureaucratic перепоны and the congress. The rocket will transport by rail on located where - that in Ukraine the object constructed by the Ministry of Defence. There it will cut on scrap metal.

We went to the neighboring city to inspect new buildings. According to the Ukrainian legislation, the invalided-out officers needed to be provided with apartments. Without it it was impossible to close military base. However the new government of Ukraine wasn't able to construct housing itself. Therefore we agreed about allocation of financial means to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine for conversion, according to the project of the American company, production at the enterprise located nearby for construction voyenno - sea vessels on release of combined inhabited designs. The housing was provided to officers who were engaged earlier in protection and start of nuclear missiles in Pervomaisk. Thanks to this program it was possible to close at the same time nuclear base, to stop production of the new weapon at this former Soviet enterprise and to give new economic opportunities to workers. When we arrived, the orthodox priest sprinkled a place and us with holy water, and the retired officer and his wife with pride showed us the new house - modest, but convenient.

Without participation of the Ministry of Defence of the USA this work would be never complete and the nuclear weapon still would be on this hilly district. The Pentagon program in Ukraine really was "protection by other means". Expenses of the American defensive budget on this innovative program were insignificant in comparison with allocations for protection against rockets which we now dismantled. Spending dollar behind dollar, the country ensured, at least, the same safety, as thanks to any other item of expenditure of the defensive budget.

Rocket mines turn into a dust

Our third joint trip to Pervomaisk took place a year later, in January, 1996.Together with us aboard the Air Force of Ukraine was the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Pavel Grachev, Radetsky's successor on a post of the Minister of Defence of Ukraine Valery Shmarov, the ambassador of the USA in Ukraine William Miller ordering nuclear rocket armies of Russia, future Minister of Defence Igor Sergeyev, the adviser to the president of Ukraine for national security Vladimir Gorbulin, the senior Assistant to the President of Clinton in National Security council across the former Soviet Union Koyt D. Blecker.

In airfield in Umani near Pervomaisk the pilot blindly made extremely risky landing, having dangerously come nearer through snowstorm and fog to vzletno - a landing strip. The wing of the plane hooked on a huge snowdrift. In any other time of the year it would crash into the earth and the plane would turn over. From Perry's push threw under "negotiating table", and Grachev - in a plane tail. Case, looking at the general Sergeyev, gloomy I thought that that, probably, the last whom he sees on the earth. Though the landing didn't foretell anything good, our third trip to Pervomaisk was triumphal.

There, in snowstorm and the chilling rain, three Ministers of Defence - Perry, Shmarov and Grachev at the same time turned keys which two years earlier could make start-up of nuclear missiles towards the United States. This time explosives ignited only and the empty concrete mine for start of CC-19 blew up. When we remember this day, we think not that our landing almost came to an end accident. The mine appears at us with CC-19, breaking up in smoke clubs. Thanks to the American help and skillful diplomacy we eliminated nuclear threat, liquidating one mine for another.

Fourth trip

In the fourth and last time we came back to Pervomaisk in the fine June afternoon in 1996. We flied to watch how will finally ship nuclear warheads in Ukraine for their dismantle on objects in Russia. But officials of Ukraine argued until the last minute on, whether not to leave the weapon. Therefore at first we went on base where the Ukrainian army carried out military exercises together with soldiers from the United States, Russia, Poland and six other European countries according to NATO program "Partnership for Peace".

Having chosen a roundabout way, we gave a signal - a reminder that Ukraine will ensure the safety, having joined a family of the European people, instead of clinging to illusory protection by means of the nuclear weapon.Our signal was heard late at night. Just before our arrival in Pervomaisk the last nuclear warheads left Ukraine and crossed border with Russia, going to object for dismantle.

In Pervomaisk we met again the Minister of Defence Grachev and the Minister of Defence Shmarov. On the small hill of a barbed wire and steel doors any more wasn't. Warheads and rockets too. The concrete mine was turned into rubble and covered with earth. Round us the plowed-up, sowed fields stretched. Fine sunflowers blossomed now on a place of nuclear rocket mines, bunkers behind control over the weapon and a barbed wire. We approached to a place where there was a cover of rocket mine earlier. Three Ministers of Defence put there sunflowers, having seeded new seeds of the world.

Authors: Asheton CARTER, William PERRY

Asheton B. Carter - the Assistant Secretary of defense of the USA on policy issues of the international security (1993-1996)

William Dzh. Perry - the Minister of Defence of the USA (February, 1994 - January, 1997)

Carter and Perry in common carried out the American strategic Project of preventive defense developed Harward and Stenfordsky universities.

I translated from English
Arkady Sidoruk

(The translation - according to the Ashton B.Carter William J.Perry Preventive Defense edition. A New Strategy for America. Brookings Institution Press, Washington D.C. 1999)


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