Chemical weapons processing plant to be put to operation in Russia

Participants in a session of the State Commission on Chemical Disarmament have discussed the progress of preparations to put to operation a chemical weapon processing plant. The facility is currently being constructed outside the village of Gorny, the Saratov region.

This information was disclosed on Friday by the press service of Sergei Kiriyenko, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District and the Chairman of the State Commission on Chemical Disarmament.

According to the press service, the processing plant in the Gorny village will be the first Russian facility constructed within the Destruction of Chemical Weapons programme. The plant's processing schemes will be based on Russian technologies and equipped with Germany-produced hardware. The facility will destroy approximately 1,300 tons of chemical warfare /CW/ agents, which are currently stockpiled at a local chemical weapon arsenal. They are yperite, lewisite and their mixtures.

The plant is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2002. At the same time, Sergei Kiriyenko said that the deadline could be postponed even in case of "minor safety problems." The Commission Chairman stated at the session that "we have no alternative to this chemical weapons processing plant." "We will do this not only because Russia has to fulfil its international obligations, but primarily, because these agents are being stockpiled on our own land. We have only ten years to destroy them," Kiriyenko emphasised.

When speaking about the future of the Gorny facility after chemical arsenals have been processed, Kiriyenko said that the plant had unique security, management and social systems - all this equipment should be used in the future.

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