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Safety

Russia Makes Progress In Destroying Weapons

by Glenn Hess
March 5, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 10

Half of the nerve agents stored at a major chemical weapons depot in Shchuch’ye, Russia, have been eliminated. Workers rendered the chemical warfare materials harmless after they were drained from Cold War-era munitions, says Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.). Projectiles and shells that held the agents were destroyed in July 2011. The nerve agents—including VX, sarin, and soman—are being neutralized, treated with bitumen (tar), and stored in secure bunkers. The Shchuch’ye destruction facility, located 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow, opened in 2009. Approximately 14% (about 5,460 metric tons) of Russia’s stockpile has been stored in 2 million munitions at the site. The complex has received financial support from the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which was established to secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in former Soviet states. Congress authorized the program in 1991, passing legislation Lugar coauthored with former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). “Our own national security is bolstered by a vigorous international campaign to contain and eliminate all chemical weapons stockpiles,” Lugar says. “Destroying the huge cache of weapons at Shchuch’ye will make Americans safer.”

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