Russia: 20% of chemical weapons destroyed

Having announced the destruction of 20% of its chemical weapons, Russia claims its next objective is to eliminate 45% of the country's chemicals by the end of 2009.

“Not all the Western countries believed we could make it. We have always said we will do what we have to. Today we have proved Russia is pursuing its programme and reaching its goals,” Viktor Kholstov, Deputy Head of the Federal Industry Agency, stated.

Four more disposal facilities will be set up at storage sites. These are meant to ensure Russia implements its chemical disarmament programme on time.

Production of chemical weapons began in the former Soviet Union 66 years ago, during the World War II.

Russia started chemical disarmament 10 years ago. In 1997 Moscow ratified the chemical weapons convention banning the development, storage and use of arms. Moscow received over $ U.S. 2 BLN in international aid under the Global Partnership Programme set up at the 2002 G8 Summit in Canada.

The country planned to eliminate its stock of 40,000 metric tons, being the largest in the world, in 10 year's time, but, along with the USA, asked for an extension until 2012.

Russia insists it is set to get rid of its chemical weapons arsenal within 5 years, and many officials are certain the country will make it on time.

“I think the fact that Russia has been able now to destroy 20% of chemical weapons gives strong hopes that the obligation to destroy all of these by 2012 will be fulfilled,” Rogelio Pfirter from Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Organisation believes.