Russia inaugurates second chemical-weapons destruction plant

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YEKATERINBURG, March 1 (RIA Novosti, Oksana Grebennik) - Russia launched its second chemical-weapons destruction plant Wednesday, a member of a government inspection team at the facility said.

Yevgeny Samokhvalov said that the Kambarka plant, in the Republic of Udmurtia about 700 miles east of Moscow, would use cutting-edge technology to produce chemicals for use in medicines, both on the domestic market and for exports.

Local officials said that about 1.7 metric tons of lewisite had been destroyed during tests conducted at the plant, which comprises about 50 facilities, since December.

Russia is also building a chemical-weapons destruction plant in the village of Maradykovo in the central Kirov Region, about 550 miles northeast of Moscow.

About 20% of Russia's chemical weapons will be destroyed by 2007, according to provisional calculations. 4,000mt of weapons have been destroyed at Gorny, Russia's first destruction plant, and another 4,000mt will be destroyed at Kambarka and Maradykovo.

With the Kambarka plant and the first part of Maradykovo operational, Russia will complete the second stage of an internationally backed program intended to destroy Russia's 40,000-mt weapons stockpile by 2012.

Under the program, Russia is set to build in 2008 its third destruction plant in the Western Siberian Kurgan Region, which borders Kazakhstan.

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