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US to Press Ukraine on Nuclear Issue

The United States may soon increase pressure on Ukraine to surrender its nuclear capability and seek to play a more direct role in mediating differences between Ukraine and Russia that threaten security in Eurasia, senior officials said Saturday.

Ukraine and Russia are at loggerheads on a variety of issues, including debt and the future of nuclear arms in Ukraine that are supposed to be turned over to Russia for dismantling.

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A major concern among Ukrainians is that Russia willl never accept their independence and might at some time move to reestablish control over their country. The recent turmoil in Russia has hardened the resolve of more nationalistic Ukrainians against surrounding control of their nuclear weapons.

US President Bill Clinton recently prodded Ukraine to move quickly to ratify the START-I and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaties.

A senior US diplomat recently predicted Washington and Moscow would soon increase the pressure on Ukraine through economic pressure. This would be a major change in the US approach, which until now has been that Ukraine's ties with the US would depend on its abandonment of atomic arms.

Ukraine has demanded security guarantees before it agrees to this and says informal assurances by the US and its allies are not enough.

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