|Russia and U.S. Will Not Meet 2012 Deadline to Eliminate Chemical Weapons Stockpiles|
|Written by Melissa Gillis|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 07:00|
The clock is ticking on efforts by the United States and Russia to eliminate their respective stockpiles of chemical warfare materials. The two countries have less than a year remaining to fulfill their obligations under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which they are both parties. Those familiar with the ongoing efforts, however, have known for some time that neither country would be able to meet the April 2012 deadline, according to the Global Security Newswire.
The CWC, which was adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1997, prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, including mustard blister agent and the nerve agents VX and sarin. The pact originally called on member states to destroy all stockpiles of banned substances by April 29, 2007. However, countries could ask for extensions of up to five years, which Russia and the U.S. received in December 2006.
At one time the United States and Russia possessed 90 percent of the world’s known chemical weapons. Moscow has said it needs until at least 2015 to completely destroy its stockpile, while Washington does not anticipate completing the task before 2021. Disposal has proven to be a highly complex matter, with high costs and environmental concerns contributing to delays.
Albania, India and South Korea have eliminated their declared stockpiles of chemical warfare materials. The only two other CWC “possessor” member states are Libya and Iraq. Angola, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia and Syria have yet to sign the pact while Israel and Myanmar have signed on but not yet ratified.
As of April 27, the United States had destroyed nearly 86 percent of the 29,918 tons of warfare agents it held when the treaty entered into force in 1997, according to Greg Mahall, spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Chemical Materials Agency. The service is responsible for destroying 90 percent of the total U.S. stockpile of chemical warfare materials.
Meanwhile, Russia had destroyed about 49 percent of its stockpile as of February, according to Paul Walker, security and sustainability chief at the environmental organization Global Green USA. He noted that Russia’s chemical arsenal constituted roughly 40,000 metric tons of materials at its peak.
Source: Global Security Newswire