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Russia opens 4th chemical weapons destruction plant

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE. June 17, 2008.

Russia opened a fourth plant Tuesday to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, which are the largest in the world.

The destruction facility, located near the site of one of Russia's seven major chemical weapons arsenals, will help accelerate an ambitious effort to fully eliminate the stockpiles in less than four years.

The plant near Leonidovka in the Penza Oblast holds 7,600 tons (6,885 metric tons) of VX, sarin, and soman nerve agents, about 17 percent of Russia's declared chemical weapons stockpile, according to Global Green USA, the Washington-based affiliate of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's Green Cross International environmental organization.

The plant is about 350 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Moscow,

Global Green USA congratulated Russia on neutralizing about 25 percent of its declared 40,000 tons chemical weapons stockpiles.

"The start-up of a fourth destruction facility this month will now help Russia to accelerate their chemical weapons stockpile destruction and potentially meet the April 2012 deadline of the Chemical Weapons Convention for complete stockpile elimination," Global Green USA program director Paul Walker said in a statement.

International Herald Tribune Article

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