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    RUSSIA TO SPEND $184 MILLION DESTROYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS

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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - In 2004 Russia will spend $184 million on the destruction of chemical weapons, Mikhail Lysenko, the director of the security and disarmament department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told The Global Partnership of G8 Countries Against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction conference on Friday.

    "Russia annually spends about $160 million on the destruction of chemical weapons," he recalled.

    In 2003, a facility to process chemical weapons was built in Gorny, a village in the Saratov region, with the help of Germany, France, the Netherlands and the EU. Presently, over 600 metric tons of chemical weapons have been destroyed at this facility, said Mr. Lysenko.

    According to a report from the information center for storage and destruction of chemical weapons, 40 metric tons of lewisite will be destroyed before the end of April at the facility. Another 252 metric tons of potent war gases stored in the facility's arsenal will be destroyed by the end of 2005, under Russia's program for destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons.

    Through this method, one of the provisions of the international convention on the elimination of 1% of the Russia's chemical weapons has been implemented, noted Mr. Lysenko.

    "Our next target is the elimination of 20% of the chemical weapons before 2007. This will be the second stage of the implementation of the convention on the elimination of chemical weapons," said Mr. Lysenko. He specified that this task will be accomplished in cooperation with a number of states, in the village Kombarka (Udmurtia).

    The Saratov region and Udmuria are in the Volga Federal District.

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