Russia destroys more chemical arms

Russia has taken a key step towards destroying all its chemical weapons, with the opening of another site to neutralise arms. The country is already ahead of its international treaty obligation to destroy all chemical arms by 2012.

The new site, at Leonidovka in the Penza region, will destroy its first weapon in August.

“This very facility at Leonidovka is crucial for Russia's program on chemical weapons destruction. It'll help Russia to meet the 2009 deadline with half of the entire arsenal destroyed,” Valery Kapashin from the Federal Administration for Chemical Weapons said.

In 1993 Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons.

The schedule calls for the destruction of the first 20 percent of the most dangerous weapons by the end of 2007 – something Russia achieved long ago.

The other 25 percent are scheduled to be destroyed by the end of next year. All of Russia's declared arsenal of 40,000 tonnes is required to be eliminated by 2012.

“Russia is fulfilling its obligation on chemical weapons destruction so that the international community is satisfied,” Rogelio Pferter, Director General, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said.

Currently chemical weapons are stored at seven depots. For of them already have destruction facilities and three others will be completed within a year.

Local residents at the new Leonidovka facility in the Penza region say they’re unconcerned about living close to such dangerous chemicals.

“We feel in no danger here as we think the authorities are doing their best to prevent any catastrophe,” Elena Ovechnikova, resident, said.

Authorities are hoping Russia’s leadership will encourage other countries to destroy their weapons.