Balancing and commissioning work at the Gorny chemical weapons destruction plant is 95% complete, according to General Viktor Yakimkin, the head of the Spetsstroi company's Saratov division. Yakimkin made this announcement at a meeting of the regional administration held earlier today.
According to Yakimkin, the companies carrying out the balancing and commissioning have already been paid over USD 76 million. The facility for destroying mustard gas is already complete. Yakimkin declared that Russia will meet her international commitments by destroying the first 400 tonnes of chemical weapons by April 29, 2003.
Yakimkin also stressed that the construction of social facilities was proceeding according to schedule. This week, the water supply network, which is new to Gorny, will be switched on. The general also announced that the 15,000 people who work and live by the plant will undergo an examination every six months in a purpose-built diagnostic centre.
All fears about what the West was trying to make of Ukraine are confirmed, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.