UNITED NATIONS, October 18. /TASS/. Russia, which eliminated the last stockpiles of its chemical weapons in September, has called on the United States and other countries to immediately "follow suit" and destroy the arsenals of such weapons. Speaking at a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Yermakov called this event historic, adding that it should be enshrined in the relevant General Assembly resolution.
"You know that we inherited the world’s largest arsenal of this type of weapons of mass destruction, and we have coped with the task of eliminating it in a worthy manner, thereby once again reiterating Russia’s commitment to strict observance of its obligations under international treaties," the diplomat said. According to Yermakov, the elimination of chemical stockpiles by Russia is "a historic milestone for the entire international community."
"At the same time, we cannot stop here. We call on all other countries still possessing chemical weapons to follow Russia’s lead without delay. That concerns, first and foremost, the country that initiated the convention, which has always been the most active proponent of its ideas when it came to other countries and now, for some reason, it continues to be the largest possessor of chemical weapons," Yermakov noted. The diplomat added that he was baffled by US attempts "to cast a shadow on big achievements of other countries, such as Syria."
Answering his Russian counterpart, US Permanent Representative to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, Robert Wood, confirmed that his country was committed to destroying the remaining chemical stocks by 2023. He also recalled that the United States was actively involved in the elimination of the Russian chemical weapons program allocating $1 bln for the purpose.
In his speech, Yermakov noted the role of the US and some other countries, including the U.K., Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Germany and France. "We are grateful to all partners for their assistance," he said. "Now that this Herculean task has been accomplished, one can say without exaggeration that the elimination of Russia’s chemical arsenal is a historic milestone for the entire international community. We expect this to be properly reflected in the resolution of the current session of the UN General Assembly on the Chemical Weapons Convention," the diplomat stressed.
He also recalled Russia’s initiative on launching negotiations to hammer out a convention to combat acts of chemical and biological terrorism. The diplomat noted that the US and some other countries accused the Syrian government of using warfare agents against its own people without providing any hard facts. He called on all countries to work "in the spirit of compromise" taking into account not only their own considerations but also the general unshakable interests of international security and strategic stability.
Russia signed the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on January 13, 1993, and ratified it on November 5, 1997. In accordance with it, the country declared it had nearly 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons and pledged to fully destroy them. The last chemical weapons were destroyed on September 27, and OPCW inspectors officially confirmed that Russia had fully eliminated its stockpiles of warfare agents. Initially, it was assumed that Russia and the US would complete this process in 2012, but the deadlines have been shifted on numerous occasions.
According to the US Arms Control Association, to date, the US has eliminated nearly 90% of its stockpiles of chemical warfare agents, or about 28,000 tonnes. In September, head of the Association Daryl Kimball did not rule out in an interview with TASS that the US could again ask the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to extend the deadlines for the disposal of its chemical weapons stockpiles.