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Russia confirms pledge to destroy all chemical weapons by 2012

Russia will fulfill its obligations under an international agreement to destroy all its chemical weapon stockpiles by 2012, a senior defense official said Thursday.

Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention on January 13, 1993 and ratified it on November 5, 1997. The country declared an arsenal of 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in 1997, and has so far destroyed 8,000 tons. Army General Alexander Belousov, who is also Russia’s first deputy defense minister, said told a news conference in Moscow: “This is an important issue, and we take it seriously. We are certain that all stockpiles of chemical weapons in Russia will be destroyed by 2012.” The convention stipulates four phases of weapons and materials destruction. One percent of the weapons, were destroyed in the first phase and 20% in the second phase. Forty-five percent will be scrapped in the third phase, and the remaining 34% in the fourth.

Speaking at the same news conference, Lieutenant General Valery Kapashin, chief of the Federal Department for the Safe Storage and Liquidation of Chemical Weapons, said Russia will scrap 45% of its chemical weapons arsenals by the end of 2009, despite the lack of financial assistance from other signatories to the convention. Russia has been destroying its chemical stockpiles with aid from other countries such as the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada. However, the general said the country has so far received only slightly more than 25% of the promised $1.6-billion financial assistance. “By December 2009, when the third phase [of chemical disarmament] is to be completed, we will scrap 18,500 metric tons of chemical weapons, or 45% of the total stockpiles,” Kapashin said.

Russia has allocated $7.18 billion from the federal budget for the implementation of the program and built at least three chemical weapons destruction plants - at Gorny, in the central Saratov Region, at Kambarka, in the Republic of Udmurtia, and at the Maradykovsky complex in the Kirov Region. (rian.ru)