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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Russian Chemical Weapons Destruction - 1990s

Russia officially stated its commitment to destroy, and not replace, its declared CW stocks. The program to destroy the Russian Federation's chemical weapons stockpile faced many of the same challenges experienced by the United States. Both stockpiles are very large, are stored in multiple locations, and are comprised of a considerable variety of munition and agent types, as well as munition-agent combinations. In addition to these issues, Russian Federation laws that govern the chemical weapons destruction program dictate requirements the Russian program must meet. Consequently, the Russian Federation must take into account each of these factors and develop a destruction process that meets the specific conditions of its stockpile.

The Soviet Union built a large factory in Chapayevsk for chemical destruction of chemical agents using ethylene glycol and ethanol amine - good solubilizers and strong nucleophiles to attack and chemically transform the agents. This methodology had the disadvantage that large amounts of liquid waste remain for subsequent disposal. The plant became operational in 1989, but was closed almost immediately because of public opposition.

On 23 September 1989 Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze signed the Wyoming Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which called for a bilateral exchange of information and verification inspections for chemical weapons. Two phases comprise the Wyoming MOU.

Phase I consisted of a data exchange data pertaining to CW capabilities, including the aggregate quantity of CW, types of chemicals in CW, percentage of chemicals in munitions and storage containers, and locations of CW storage, production and destruction facilities. Moscow declared some 20 former chemical weapon production facilities and filling plants that were operational after January 1, 1946, including multiple buildings within the large chemical production complexes at Chapayevsk, Dzerzinsk, Volgograd, and Novocheboksarsk. Each side visited CW storage, production, destruction and industrial chemical production facilities from June-August 1990. Phase I concluded with expert visits during January-February 1991 to five U.S. and one Soviet facility.

Phase II, which began on January 14, 1994, consisted of a two-part data exchange on the respective country's chemical weapons (CW) program including stockpiles and facilities associated with the development, production and storage of CW and five inspections by each country of facilities declared under Phase II. The data exchanged was intended to serve not only Phase II purposes, but also to be an indicator of the two countries' approaches to data declarations under the Bilateral Destruction Agreement (BDA) and, in part, under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The data exchange occurred in April and May 1994 and the inspections began in August 1994 and ended in December 1994.

Russia failed to comply fully with the data declaration provisions of the Wyoming MOU and its implementing procedures. Certain aspects of Russia's Phase II data on facilities, chemical agents, and stockpile were incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent with previously declared data. The on-site inspections originally agreed to under Phase II of the MOU were pared down in 1993. Russia refused to permit a full suite of technical inspection equipment, even after most inspections and all challenge inspections of non-declared sites were eliminated.

As detailed in Russian Federation Decree #305, On the Approval of the Special Federal Targeted Program for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons Stockpiles in the Russian Federation (21 March 1996), the Russian chemical weapons destruction support program had the following objectives:

  • Destroy the stockpile in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention,
  • Improve the ecological conditions of the areas surrounding chemical weapons storage and destruction sites, and
  • Mitigate public concerns about living in close proximity to the storage locations.

To meet these objectives, the Russian program's major priorities were to develop the social infrastructure in the areas surrounding the destruction facilities, ensure that the destruction process is conducted safely, protect and support recovery of the local environment, and make effective use of funding from all sources. Both Decree #305 and a subsequent law adopted on November 5, 1997, ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention demonstrate the Russian Federation's commitment to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by making provisions for allocation of funds to support the program and by designating the government officials and agencies responsible for accomplishing the program.

The Russian Duma, on December 27, 1996, passed a law on the destruction of CW; however, the Federation Council voted it down on January 23, 1997, on the grounds that it did not provide sufficient guarantees for ecological safety.



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