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Putin Hails Russia's Destruction Of Chemical Weapons, Chides U.S.

RFE/RL September 27, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country was destroying its last chemical weapons on September 27 in what the head of the international chemical weapons watchdog called a "major milestone."

"Today, the last chemical ammunition from Russian chemical weapons stockpiles will be destroyed," Putin said during a video link with Russia's last remaining chemical weapons storage facility, in the Udmurtia region.

He called it a "historic event given the huge size of chemical weapons arsenals left to us since Soviet times, which specialists believed could have destroyed every living thing on Earth several times over."

"We expect that Russia's efforts...will serve as an example for other countries," Putin said, adding that the United States "unfortunately is not carrying out its obligations when it comes to the time frame of destroying chemical weapons."

Putin said that the United States has put off doing so three times, "including on the pretext of the lack of...financial assets, which, honestly speaking, sounds rather strange."

The U.S. administration did not immediately comment on Putin's remarks.

They came amid severe tension over issues including Russia's aggression in Ukraine and its military campaign in Syria, where Western officials accuse Moscow of seeking to cover up chemical weapons attacks by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Russia and the United States are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which required them to destroy their stockpiles by 2007 with a potential extension until 2012.

The two Cold War rivals, which accounted for the vast majority of chemical arms declared under the CWC, both received the extension but failed to meet the 2012 deadline.

According to NTI, a Washington-based organization that seeks to reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction, the United States had destroyed about 90 percent of its declared chemical weapons stockpiles by 2013.

Seven of the nine U.S. disposal facilities have completed their work and closed, and the last one is set to eliminate its stockpiles by 2023, the organization says.

In 2010, Moscow set a 2015 target date for eliminating its chemical stockpile and later extended it to 2020.

The current U.S. target date is 2023.

With reporting by AFP, TASS, Interfax, and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-chemical-weapons-destruction -united-states-stockpile/28760622.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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