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    Italy to help Russia destroy chemical weapons

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    Italy has pledged 360 million euros ($565 million) to help Russia destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons by 2012, a Russian senator said on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Italy has pledged 360 million euros ($565 million) to help Russia destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons by 2012, a Russian senator said on Wednesday.

    Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical arms in 1993 and ratified it in 1997. The country is to destroy all its declared arsenal of 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons by 2012.

    Valentin Zavadnikov, chairman of the committee for industrial policy in the upper chamber of Russia's parliament, said Italy will help build a facility in the Bryansk Region in western Russia for this purpose under a Russian-Italian inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia, which was backed by his committee.

    "The document's implementation will make it possible to reduce the federal budget's burden, and improve the social and political situation in the town of Pochep in the Bryansk Region, where a facility for the destruction of chemical weapons is to be built, through the creation of new jobs and the engagement of Russian companies in work under contracts with Italy," the senator said.

    Western nations pledged at the 2002 Kananaskis G8 summit to help Russia financially and technologically to destroy or convert its chemical weapons and production facilities as part of the Global Partnership against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

    By April 2007, Russia had destroyed 20% of its chemical weapons, or 8,000 metric tons. The country plans to bring the figure up to 45% by the end of 2009 and finish the process by 2012.

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