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44% of toxic substances disposed of at Russia’s last chemical weapons destruction facility

November 12, 2015, 17:59 UTC+3 IZHEVSK
This year, Russia has finished work at four chemical weapons disposal plants and has shut down the two of them
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© Grigoriy Sysoev/ITAR-TASS

IZHEVSK, November 12. /TASS/. Russia’s last chemical weapons destruction facility in the Kizner settlement, Udmurtia republic, has disposed of more than 44% of toxic agents stored there, Alexander Perunov, the republic’s deputy minister of construction and housing policy said on Thursday.

"As of November 10, a total of 44.1% of the stockpiles of toxic agents, that is, 2533.7 tons, have been eliminated," he said at a roundtable discussion on the implementation of the program for the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

The facility was put into operation in December 2013. Kizner’s arsenals contained 5,680 tons (14.2% of the total sarin, zaman and VX stockpiles) remained from the past century.

"Next year will see the largest tonnage [of chemical weapons destruction], we’ll destroy 15-20% of the total stockpiles," head of the facility Yuri Novoidarsky told TASS on Thursday. According to him, in 2016 it is planned to destroy 100 tons more toxic substances than in 2015. The Kizner facility will complete the elimination of all stockpiles of toxic agents by 2018.

In late October, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet 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.

Uzumcu on October 30 attended a ceremony of closing the Maradykovo facility, 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 certain 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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