US could have aided Kiev in nuclear development
According to a Russian source familiar with the nuclear industry, the US may have possibly given Ukraine plutonium for nuclear weapon development.
According to a Russian source, the US may have supplied Kiev with plutonium utilized for nuclear weapon development, as Ukraine has been aggressively researching the potential of uranium mining and enrichment. The source added that in recent years, Ukraine increased investigation of deep layers on the site of existing uranium mines, as well as the development of prospective uranium resources, particularly in the Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk, and Kirovograd districts.
Additionally, Kiev representatives have begun discussions with international businesses about assisting Ukraine in developing its own uranium enrichment plants. According to the source, Ukraine also acquired plutonium, most likely from the US.
Speaking to Sputnik, the source said that "In order to accelerate the research and development work, plutonium of the required quality was obtained from abroad at the initial stage. According to available information, the United States had already transferred this material to its partners. There is reason to believe that there was Washington’s participation in the case of Ukraine."
The source added that the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology played a crucial role in Ukraine's efforts toward nuclear weapon development, in addition to other institutions around the county such as the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kiev.
Kiev was also working on potential means of nuclear weapon delivery, according to a source who told Sputnik that "work was underway in the country to modernize existing and create new missile weapons that can be used as means of delivering nuclear weapons."
According to the source, Kiev provided a "cover" for these advances by undertaking cooperative initiatives with other nations. It may have also secretly obtained Western technologies for centrifuge enrichment.
Ex-Ukraine PM: Kiev has technical capabilities for nuclear developments
On Saturday, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told Sputnik that Kiev has technological capacity for nuclear development.
Responding to whether Ukraine was currently conducting nuclear developments, Azarov responded, "Even now, Ukraine with all the destruction and disintegration is a high-tech state, which has all the necessary specialists and equipment."
"You probably do not know, but Kiev has its own small nuclear reactor, designed for research work. Moreover, Ukraine has nuclear power units. Ukraine has uranium deposits."
According to the former PM, despite Ukraine being the poorest country in Europe and the objective not being vital at the moment, "there is a technical possibility," adding that Ukraine could have developed nuclear weapons in 2-3 years.
Before the start of the Russian military operation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at the Munich Security Conference that he would start consultations within the framework of reconsidering the Budapest Memorandum.
Zelensky told the Munich Security Conference that he "instructed the Foreign Ministry to convene a summit of the countries - signatories to the Budapest Memorandum. If it fails to take place or refuses to give Ukraine security guarantees, Kiev will recognize it as well as the clauses signed in 1994 as null and void."
The Budapest Memorandum, signed on December 5, 1994, by Britain, Russia, the United States, and Ukraine, provided guarantees for Ukraine's security and territorial integrity, in exchange for Kiev's abandonment of nuclear weapons.
According to a declassified accounting of transfers and sales examined by The Washington Post, the United States significantly increased its supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine as the potential of an escalation with Russia drew closer.
According to the list, the Pentagon began arming Ukrainians with weapons and equipment suited for combat in urban areas as early as December, including shotguns and specialist suits to protect soldiers handling explosive munitions.