Ukraine delays vote on treaties

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KIEV - Ukraine is to put off for several months a vote on ratifying two key disarmament treaties, deputies said yesterday, placing the former Soviet republic at odds with the United States on strategic issues.

Dmytro Pavlychko, chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs commission, said the chamber would begin full-scale hearings on the Start 1 and Non- Proliferation Treaties (NPT) today. But a vote on the documents would probably not take place until the autumn.

'Resolving such a difficult problem can only take place over time. In the United States it took eight or nine months. It will take a long time here too,' Mr Pavlychko said. 'I believe the final vote will be postponed until the autumn. The summer recess will allow deputies to study the matter more carefully.'

The opposition leader, Vyacheslav Chornovil, standard bearer of Ukrainian nationalists, also predicted ratification would not take place until autumn.

Parliament first declared Ukraine a nuclear-free state in 1990, 18 months before independence from Moscow, and last year gave up its tactical weapons to Russia for destruction.

The Start 1 treaty, governing nuclear weapons, was signed by the Soviet Union and the US in 1991. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan - the former Soviet republics holding nuclear weapons - joined it in Lisbon last year, but deputies in Kiev failed to meet a deadline of December 1992 to ratify Start 1 and the NPT.