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The Implications of the Ukraine Conflict for National Nuclear Security Policy

Implications of the Ukraine conflict on national nuclear security policy

EU Non-proliferation Paper no. 53

Publisher: SIPRI
November, 2016

Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the outbreak of armed conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine, development of the Ukrainian Government’s nuclear security policy has sought to strengthen the protection of civilian nuclear facilities, materials and sources inside the country from emerging threats arising from the changed security environment. Ukraine has a well-developed physical protection system for its nuclear facilities based on the assumption of territorial sovereignty, but was not prepared for the outbreak of violent separatism and foreign intervention that the country has been facing recently.

This paper reviews the nuclear security situation in Ukraine as influenced by the ongoing conflict. It looks at the current state of affairs in the Ukrainian nuclear industry through the prism of nuclear security conditions. Emerging threats are considered based on three main groups: (a) classic nuclear security threats; (b) threats from occupied/uncontrolled territories; and (c) ‘hybrid war’ threats. Successfully implemented measures aimed at improved nuclear security under such circumstances would ensure safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities and strengthen their resistance to attacks by terrorists and organized crime groups, as well as prevent illicit trafficking and malicious use of uncontrolled nuclear materials and sources.