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Russia Continues Chemical Weapons Disposal

Nearly three-fourths of the chemical warfare materials at two Russian storage sites have been eliminated, Interfax reported today (see GSN, Sept. 28).

The Leonidovka depot in the Penza Region has eliminated 72 percent of its stockpile of agents banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention, while the Maradykovsky plant in the Kirov Region is 70 percent complete with its disposal operation.

In excess of 20 percent of the stockpile at the Shchuchye storage depot in the Kurgan Region has been eliminated.

Russia once held a world's-largest stockpile of 40,000 metric tons of chemical warfare materials. As of Sept. 1, nearly half of the arsenal had been destroyed.

Two sites have completed disposal work while preparation continues on the final two demilitarization plants.

Moscow budgeted nearly $650 million for chemical weapons destruction this year, down from an anticipated $1 billion. Spending last year also ended up nearly $292 million less than previously planned, said Viktor Kholstov, treaty implementation chief at the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry.

Russia also expected to receive $2 billion in foreign support for the project but to date has collected about $1 billion, according to the Finance Ministry. The Kremlin, though, generally only counts funds provided directly to the government rather than to contractors involved in the work, observers have said.

Chemical weapons disposal in Russia is expected to be completed in 2015, three years after the deadline set by the convention (see GSN, June 30; Interfax, Nov. 8).

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