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Albania destroys its chemical arsenal

July 23, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 30

Albania became the first country to completely eliminate its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. Albania is one of six nations to have declared chemical arsenals under the Chemical Weapons Convention. On July 11, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the treaty's watchdog agency, verified that Albania had destroyed 16.7 metric tons of mustard, lewisite, mustard/lewisite mixture, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone agents. Albania, which received assistance from Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.S. in its destruction campaign, is unable to say where the agents came from. Records from the former Soviet Union, with which Albania was politically aligned, were poorly maintained or nonexistent. Six countries—Albania, India, Libya, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S.—have declared and secured more than 71,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents, according to OPCW. More than 33% of the declared tonnage had been destroyed by the end of June, it adds. Also as of that time, nearly 95% of chemical weapons production facilities had been destroyed or converted for peaceful purposes. Russia and the U.S., with the largest declared arsenals, are systematically destroying their stockpiles. Neither country, however, is likely to meet the treaty's 2012 deadline for complete destruction of all its chemical weapons.


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