Global Security Newswire. Friday, March 6, 2009.
Russia has begun to operate a U.S.-backed chemical weapons disposal facility near the Ural Mountains, the environmental organization Global Green USA announced yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 3, 2008).
The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction provided roughly half the funding for construction of the Shchuchye plant in the Kurgan Oblast. The site stores about 5,400 metric tons of various nerve agents contained within nearly 2 million artillery shells and 1,000 missile warheads.
Operations and system testing using nerve agent began yesterday at one primary destruction building, while the other plant is not expected to open for at least one year, according to Global Green. When fully operational, the site should be able to eliminate 1,600 tons of nerve agent each year.
“The initial opening of the Shchuchye facility in Russia to eliminate some 5,400 tons of deadly nerve agents is a major milestone in Russia’s program to safely destroy its 40,000 tons of chemical weapons," Paul Walker, security and sustainability chief at Global Green, said in a press release. "It will be extremely important that the U.S. remain involved in oversight and technical support for this major threat reduction and nonproliferation effort in order to make sure it moves forward safely, securely, and efficiently. We have to be 100 percent certain that no accidents or incidents happen to derail this expensive and dangerous process, and we do not want these man-portable weapons to wind up in the wrong hands.”Full GSN Article