THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 15,
VIDEOTAPED REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE SHUTDOWN OF CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
THE PRESIDENT: President Kuchma, honored guests, people of
Ukraine: today is a great day for Ukraine and for the world.
On April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear
Power Plant suffered a runaway chain reaction, causing the worst nuclear
disaster in history. That horrible destruction has offered us lessons, not
only in nuclear technology, but also in people and governments. For when
governments are arrogant and unaccountable, they will impose unacceptable
risks on the health and safety of their people.
After the disaster, the outspoken father of the Soviet atomic
program, Dr. Andrei Sakharov, declared that the safe use of nuclear
technology demands open discussions and informed citizens. So it is
fitting that while a communist government of the USSR built the unsafe
plant, a free and independent Ukraine is shutting it down. It is also
fitting to recall that the very event that exposed the weakness of the
Soviet system revealed the courage and valor of the Ukrainian people.
Fourteen years ago, Ukrainians took heroic steps to contain the
danger and protect their people. Today, we see that same commitment, as
Ukraine, with the cooperation of the United States, the G-7 and the EU,
fulfills its historic decision to shut down the Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant forever. This is a triumph for the common good. It is what is
possible when free, democratic nations pursue common goals. As President
Kuchma noted some years ago, after Ukrainian cosmonaut Leonid Kadenyk
joined American astronauts on the space shuttle: "not even the sky is the
limit to Ukrainian-U.S. cooperation."
America will stand with Ukraine as you fight for a free and
prosperous future. We will support Ukraine's efforts to take your rightful
place among the nations of Europe and alongside the world's free market
As you open your economy, strengthen the rule of law, and protect
a free press, you are both attacking the ills that led to the Chernobyl
disaster and building a future where the children of Ukraine can live their
dreams. America is on your side. We wish you Godspeed. Slava Ukrayini.