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OPCW chief to attend closing of Russian chemical weapons destruction facility

October 30, 2015, 9:45 UTC+3 KIROV
The Maradykovo facility has stored more than 40,000 air bombs and missile warheads stuffed with mixtures of toxic agents, which made up 17.4% of all Russian chemical weapons stockpiles
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© ITAR-TASS/Grigory Sysoyev

KIROV, October 30. /TASS/. The Maradykovo chemical weapons storage and destruction facility in Russia’s Kirov Region, 1,000 km east of Moscow, will be officially closed in the town of Mirny on Friday. Since 1953, this facility has stored more than 40,000 air bombs and missile warheads stuffed with mixtures of toxic agents, which made up 17.4% of all Russian chemical weapons stockpiles.

In September 2006, the full-scale disposal of chemical weapons was launched at the facility. Over the years since then, such substances as sarin, soman, mustards-lewisite mixture, in particular, have been destroyed.

After the closure the facility will undergo rehabilitation and will be reorganised for the manufacturing of civilian products.

The decommissioning ceremony will be attended by Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu, as well as Russian presidential envoy in the Volga Federal District, Chairman of the State Commission on Chemical Disarmament, Mikhail Babich, representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry, ambassadors of several countries to the OPCW.

On Wednesday, Uzumcu told TASS that OPCW had no doubts that Russia would complete the destruction of its chemical weapons stocks by 2020. He said that initially all countries that possessed chemical weapons were supposed to dispose of their stocks of toxic agents by April 29, 2012. But that did not happen due to technical and financial problems. After consultations with the OPCW member states, the OPCW decided to prolong the deadline until 2020. Russia pledged to dispose of all chemical warfare agents by 2020.

This year, Russia has finished work at four chemical weapons disposal plants: Leonidovka (the Penza region); Pochep (the Bryansk region); Maradykovo (the Kirov region) and Shchuchye (the Kurgan region). Russia has shut down the first two plants.

Mr. Ahmet Uzumcu, who is paying a visit to Russia, will attend a ceremony of closing the Maradykovo facility on October 30, while a facility in the Kurgan region will shut down on November 20. After that, a facility in Kizner will remain the only chemical weapons disposal plant in Russia that will be operational after 2015. Uzumcu is sure that Russia which has already destroyed more than 91% of its chemical weapons stocks will complete the process successfully by 2020.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the basic document of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which bans production, development, possession and use of chemical weapons. Signatory states undertake a commitment to declare and destroy their arsenals of chemical weapons and their production facilities. The process is carried out under strict international control.

Russia signed the convention in January 1993 having declared about 40,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents. Chemical weapons destruction is Russia started in December 2002. "About 36,000 tonnes of toxic chemical agents, or more than 91% of Russia’s aggregate arsenals, have already been destroyed," chairman of Russia’s state commission on chemical disarmament, Mikhail Babich, said in September 2015.

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