A top Russian lawmaker on Thursday announced the government had pushed back to the end of 2015 the date for completion of chemical weapons disarmament operations, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, May 31).
Russian State Duma international affairs committee head Konstantin Kosachyov said Moscow set December 31, 2015, as the date of elimination for the nation's entire arsenal of chemical warfare agents, which originally weighed in at roughly 40,000 metric tons.
The Chemical Weapons Convention requires that Russia destroy its chemical arsenal by April 2012. Moscow late last year formally declared that operations would be completed at an unidentified point in 2015.
"The implementation of the [chemical weapons destruction] program has been hampered by the global financial crisis, which threw it back two to three years," Kosachyov explained.
He said Moscow would not be penalized with international sanctions for missing the CWC cutoff date. The lawmaker pointed out that the United States has also announced it would miss the convention deadline.
"The second largest holder of chemical weapons stockpiles -- the United States -- has extended its deadline until 2021 after destroying about 90 percent of its arsenal," Kosachyov said (see GSN, April 29).
Moscow has budgeted nearly $7.2 billion for chemical weapons disarmament work and has constructed six disposal factories, RIA Novosti reported. The government this week announced that it had eliminated slightly more than half of its original chemical stockpile (RIA Novosti, June 2).