Russia has moved into its final, most technically difficult stage of its chemical weapons disposal effort, ITAR-Tass quoted the program's top official as saying on Tuesday.
“We are to do away with the most dangerous pieces of ammunition of complex design,” said Col. Vladimir Mandych. “Their elimination is very costly and risky.”
He also noted the danger associated with destroying 7,000 deteriorating munitions.
Russia once held a world's-largest stockpile of 40,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents at seven storage sites. Roughly 26,500 metric tons, 66 percent of the original arsenal, have been destroyed during the first three stages of the project. Two demilitarization plants have completed operations, four remain active and one is not yet fully built.
Mandych reaffirmed Russia's intention to complete disposal operations by the end of 2015. That is more than three years beyond this year's final deadline set for member nations to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Libya, Russia and the United States are not being penalized for breaching that the April 29 end date, but rather face a mandatory program of increased reporting and transparency until their stockpiles are eliminated.
Mandych acknowledged that the United States and 14 other nations have aided Russia's chemical disarmament program, which he said is expected to cost $11.7 billion.
"Basically, they provide equipment or fund the construction of disposal facilities," the officer said.