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Russia and NATO preparing a cooperation agreement for disposal of obsolete munitions and weapons

November 26, 2012, 11:49 UTC+3
If the agreement is signed, it will become the most important project between Russia and NATO after their cooperation on Afghanistan
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The Kommersant has learned that Russia and NATO are preparing a cooperation agreement for disposal of obsolete munitions and weapons. Under the project Russia’s arsenals will be destroyed at Russia’s expense, but with the use of NATO technologies. Russia hopes to reduce dramatically the number of emergency situations while blasting ammunition and NATO – to strengthen relations with Moscow, which have deteriorated amid disagreements on missile defence. If the agreement is signed, it will become the most important project between Russia and NATO after their cooperation on Afghanistan.

The newspaper learned about the fact that Russia and NATO have been drafting a cooperation agreement on utilisation of old munitions and weapons from sources at Russia’s Defence Ministry and at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. The sources said the negotiations featuring Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had been going on for several months, however they were resumed over past few weeks – after the replacement of the defence minister. Before the yearend, a group of Russia’s military authority plans to visit a plant for utilisation of munitions and weapons in Turkey’s Yahsihan, and later on will come a decision on an optimal format of cooperation and a draft agreement between the Russian government and NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA).

The repeating emergency situations during disposal of military ammunitions have become a true headache for the Russian authorities. “Disposal by means of explosions is non-productive and too risky for soldiers,” a source at Russia’s General Staff said. “We started to work on a solution back in the beginning of the year. However, the explosions that went off at the firing grounds later on demonstrated that a delay is unacceptable. This is why we have decided to pick up foreign experience.”

In late 2011, the Russian Federation adopted a new special federal programme of industrial utilisation of ammunitions for 2011-2015 and for the period to 2020, where the total financing made 39 billion roubles. Under the earlier programme for 2005-2010, the country utilised over 60 million ammunitions and about 800 million cartridges. Most of them were disposed by means of explosion. “About 90 percent of ammunition are disposed by the military, and only ten percent by specialised organisations,” a source at the military-industrial commission of the Russian government said. “This is unacceptable.” The Kommersant reports that every year Russia is to utilise two million tonnes of ammunition, where the industry is capable of processing only 300,000 tonnes.

Russia’s acting envoy to NATO Nikolai Korchunov also confirmed Moscow’s interest in obtaining the alliance’s technologies. “Russia is interested in advanced experience. We do not see any obstacles for making this direction an element of cooperation between the Russian Federation and NATO,” he said adding that Russia “also has technologies, which are of interest for our partners (at NATO).”

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