A top Russian official announced Oct.27 that Russia will destroy all of its remaining chemical weapons before the beginning of 2018, one year earlier than scheduled.
Col. Gen. Valery Kapashin, a military official in charge of the storage and destruction of the country's chemical weaponry, told news sources that all remaining applicable weapons will be gone by December 2017, reports the International Business Times.
"The decision was made," Russian news sources quoted Kapashin as saying. "The decision is signed."
The senior official confirmed in August that nearly 94 percent of the Russian government's chemical weapons were already gone after they signed an agreement in 1993 at the international Chemical Weapons Convention with 164 other countries to end the production, possession and transfer of such stockpiles. At the time, Russia reported that it had 40,000 tons of applicable chemicals.
They began destroying their weapons in December 2002 and had originally agreed to complete the task by 2012 but did not meet that deadline due to reported financial and technical problems. They later extended the completion date to 2020, as they worked to foot the bill, along with financial assistance from other countries, that would cost an estimated $7 billion, according to the Arms Control Association.
The stockpile Russia has been working to destroy over the years includes tens of thousands of nerve agents as well as blister agents like mustard, lewisite, and a mixture of the two.
"Common security cannot be created by one country alone," former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who went on to lead a chemical disarmament commission, said at a 2001 ceremony commemorating the government's commitment to weapons destruction. "The chemical weapons stockpiled by the people of the world don't belong to one country; they are a common problem, and we bear responsibility for them."