On May 29, 2009 the Russian Federation formally opened its new chemical weapons destruction (CWD) facility in the Kurgan Oblast, just north of Kazakhstan and just east of the Ural Mountain Range. Located near the Trans-Ural village of Shchuch’ye (pronounced “shoo-che”), the chemical weapons stockpile which will be neutralized and destroyed over the next several years is one of seven CW stockpiles declared by Russia under auspices of the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The Shchuch’ye stockpile holds almost two million artillery shells and some 1,000 missile warheads, all loaded with nerve agents. Just one of these shells, appropriately detonated in a populated area, could kill thousands of people in a matter of minutes.
Green Cross Russia, an international partner of Global Green USA, participated in the formal opening. For over 12 years Green Cross Russia, together with Global Green USA and Green Cross Switzerland, has been managing public outreach activities and facilitating the safe and timely elimination of weapons in all areas where Russian CWD facilities are located, including the Shchuch’ye facility.
Senator Richard Lugar joined Russian officials, G-8 representatives and OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter at the opening ceremony and said the facility is a testament to U.S.-Russian “cooperation and our shared dedication to addressing the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction.”
“The experience of the Nunn-Lugar program in Russia has demonstrated that the threat of weapons of mass destruction can lead to extraordinary outcomes based on mutual interest. As new dangers emerge in third countries, the U.S. and Russia must work together around the world and aggressively pursue any non-proliferation opportunities that appear. Together we can utilize the Nunn-Lugar concept to address global threats,” Senator Lugar said.