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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine concerned over Russia's chemical disposal plant

RIA Novosti

11/06/2008 21:05

KIEV, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine is concerned over a Russian chemical weapons disposal plant currently being constructed 70 km (43 miles) away from its borders, the country's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Volodymyr Ohryzko said Ukraine has sent two protest notes to the Russian Foreign Ministry requesting detailed information on the facility, but has not received any response so far:

"We believe such a formula is unacceptable. Under international agreements, if such facilities are constructed in certain areas, it should be coordinated with neighboring countries."

He also said if there is no response in the future, Kiev could seek assistance from international organizations.

Russia's Foreign Ministry, however, said that Ukraine had been informed of the plant on two previous occasions as far back as 2004 and 2005.

"As far back as August 30, 2004, Russia's Foreign Ministry in response to a request sent a note to the Ukrainian side describing in detail the type and purpose of the facility being built near the town of Pochep in the Bryansk Region," the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday adding that in December 2005, Russia also informed Ukraine on measures taken to ensure environmental security at the plant.

The local authorities said the construction is scheduled for completion in 2010 with around 7,500 tons of chemical weapons being subsequently destroyed by April 2012.

"Up to 360 million euros will be spent on the design and construction. The funds will be provided by Italy under an agreement signed in 2003 between Italy and Russia," a spokesman for the western Russia's region authorities said.

He also said that 10% of the total would be spent on constructing social facilities for the area.

Russia is disposing of its vast arsenals of chemical weapons, accumulated during the Cold War, in line with international agreements.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine have deteriorated recently following Kiev's NATO membership bid and its demand that Russia's Black Sea Fleet withdraw from its naval base in Sevastopol (the Crimea). The two former Soviet republics also regularly have gas price disputes.

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