‘Chem­i­cal arms de­stroyed’

US not fol­low­ing suit: Putin


MOS­COW, Sept 28, (Agen­cies): Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day com­pleted the task of de­stroy­ing its huge, Cold War-era chem­i­cal weapons stock­piles, win­ning praise from an in­ter­na­tional chem­i­cal weapons watchdog.

Rus­sian of­fi­cials reported the de­struc­tion of the coun­try’s last re­main­ing artillery pro­jec­tile filled with VX toxic agent to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The work took place at the Kizner fa­cil­ity in the Urals, one of seven fa­cil­i­ties built in Rus­sia to de­stroy chem­i­cal weapons in an ef­fort that has spanned two decades and cost bil­lions of dol­lars.

Ah­met Uzumcu, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons, com­mended Rus­sia for achiev­ing a “ma­jor mile­stone” with the de­struc­tion of its chem­i­cal ar­se­nals.

“I con­grat­u­late Rus­sia and I com­mend all of their ex­perts who were in­volved for their pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ded­i­ca­tion,” he said in a state­ment.

The OPCW over­sees global ef­forts to elim­i­nate stock­piles un­der the Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion that took ef­fect in 1997. It says over 96 per­cent of the weapons de­clared by the con­ven­tion’s 192 par­tic­i­pants have been de­stroyed.

Putin noted that Rus­sia wrapped up the de­struc­tion of its chem­i­cal weapons stock­piles ahead of sched­ule, adding that the ef­fort un­der­lined the na­tion’s com­mit­ment to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ef­forts.

“It’s truly a his­toric event, given the huge size of the chem­i­cal ar­se­nals in­her­ited from Soviet times, big enough to en­tirely de­stroy life on Earth sev­eral times,” Putin said in a video call with of­fi­cials in Kizner. “This is a huge step to­ward mak­ing the world of to­day more se­cure and bal­anced.”

Rus­sia launched the pro­gram of dis­man­tling its chem­i­cal weapons stock­piles when it was still reel­ing from post-Soviet eco­nomic melt­down in the 1990s. It re­lied on the US and other Western aid in the early phases of the pro­gram, but later came to fund the ef­fort from its own cof­fers as the Rus­sian econ­omy re­bounded.

Rus­sia has spent more than 290 bil­lion rubles (more than $5 bil­lion) to de­stroy nearly the 40,000 met­ric tons of chem­i­cal weapons it pos­sessed, Eco­nomics Min­is­ter De­nis Man­turov said, ac­cord­ing to the state RIA Novosti news agency.

Ear­lier, Putin had an­nounced that Rus­sia was de­stroy­ing its last chem­i­cal weapons, hail­ing the move as a “his­toric event” and ac­cus­ing the United States of not fol­low­ing suit.

“To­day the last chem­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion from Rus­sia’s chem­i­cal weapon stock­pile will be de­stroyed,” Putin said in tele­vised re­marks.

Putin also used the speech to nee­dle Wash­ing­ton, say­ing the United States was not ad­her­ing to its in­ter­na­tional du­ties in full.

The US “un­for­tu­nately is not car­ry­ing out its obli­ga­tions when it comes to the time­frame of de­stroy­ing chem­i­cal weapons -- they pushed back the liq­ui­da­tion time­frame al­ready three times,” Putin said.

The Rus­sian leader said Wash­ing­ton had post­poned its plans to de­stroy its chem­i­cal weapons cit­ing in­suf­fi­cient funds, which he said “looked a lit­tle bit strange.”

“We ex­pect the United States to carry out all of its obli­ga­tions it has taken upon it­self as part of in­ter­na­tional agree­ments just like other coun­tries do,” Putin added.

Some 96 per­cent of all the world’s de­clared stock­pile of chem­i­cal weapons have now been de­stroyed, the OPCW said.

Rus­sia and the United States amassed huge stocks of chem­i­cal weapons dur­ing the Cold War, but had agreed to de­stroy them af­ter join­ing the 1997 con­ven­tion by April 2012.

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