Russia says has destroyed nearly 75% of chemical weapons
MOSCOW - Agence France-PresseRussia said today it had destroyed nearly three-quarters of its world-topping stock of chemical weapons and expected to eliminate its entire arsenal by 2015 in line with a self-imposed deadline.
The United States has been concerned about Russia's ability or desire to eliminate the dangerous weapons -- pronounced illegal by a 1997 global convention -- after it tore up a reduction programme agreement with Washington in 2012.
But the Russian trade and industry ministry official in charge of the Chemical Weapons Convention's implementation said Russia was committed to eliminating its stock.
"In terms of volume, we have eliminated more chemical weapons than all the other countries," the Interfax news agency quoted Viktor Kholstov as saying.
"That is more than 29,000 tonnes, which is 73 percent of our overall supplies." Kholstov said that Russia had destroyed eight of the 24 plants it had used to make the weapons.
It said another 15 sites had been issued certificates to convert them to other industries while the last facility's recertification was now in process.
Russia was forced to extend the April 2012 deadline set by the global convention for the world's elimination of its entire chemical weapons stock to 2015 because of the size of its arsenal.
Kholstov stressed that the mission should be accomplished on time, although media reports had said earlier this month that Russia could extend that deadline until 2020. Much of Russia's stock was produced in the Communist era at secret facilities that stretched across the Soviet republics.
The other ex-Soviet states are also signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention.