Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have issued a joint appeal for donors to help renovate the sarcophagus covering the ruined fourth reactor at Chernobyl. The letter asking for aid was sent to the leaders of Argentina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, New Zealand, Brunei and Qatar.
The fifth meeting of the Chernobyl Shelter Fund donor countries which was held in London in December, was told that, due to high radiation levels and the need to carry out work to bring them down, repairs to the reinforced concrete panels over the Sarcophagus have been postponed until February 1999. This has resulted in the cost of the project increasing from ECU l million to ECU 1.6 million.
EU support for Ukraine Negotiators working for the European Commission have been given the go-ahead to try and strike a general nuclear co-operation agreement between the EU and the Ukraine, expanding existing deals on nuclear safety. In particular, Brussels would like to reach an understanding with Kiev on the trade in nuclear materials. The Commission would like to see this agreement include: • Non-proliferation conditions governing transfers, excluding research on or the development of explosive devices.
• The free movement of Ukranian nuclear materials within the EU.
• A guarantee that an EU-Ukraine trade deal would not jeopardise the viability of European Union nuclear installations.
The Commission would also like to see a general agreement expanding EU-Ukraine cooperation in research in areas that are not yet covered by the existing nuclear accords.