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BBC Monitoring
Russian TV visits chemical weapons disposal plant opened in Volga region
Source: Centre TV, Moscow, in Russian 1500 gmt 22 Jan 03

[Presenter] An information and analysis centre in charge of safe storage
and disposal of chemical weapons has opened in Saratov. It is here that
information about the operations in the workshops of Russia's first plant
for the disposal of toxic chemical agents will come.

[Correspondent] The first tonnes of mustard gas were disposed of in the
village of Gornyy on the night of 20 December. This was the beginning of
Russia fulfilling its obligations in accordance with the international
convention on banning chemical weapons.

[Sergey Lisovskiy, minister of industry, science and technology of Saratov
Region] At present some 56 t of mustard gas have been disposed of at the
Gornyy plant. We have to fulfil Russia's obligations to dispose of 400 t
[of mustard gas] by 29 April.

[Correspondent] Some 1,600 t of mustard gas and lewisite manufactured
before World War II are stored in Saratov Region. This amount is sufficient
for the gas with a tender smell of geranium to kill everything alive on the
territory equal to one-third of Europe. No advanced technologies for the
disposal of chemical weapons have so far been developed in the world, so
launching a plant in Gornyy was perceived as a rather risky experiment.

The plant in Gornyy will turn mustard gas, lewisite and mixtures thereof
into reaction masses with a high arsenic content. These are no longer
chemical weapons, but are still substances of the second degree of danger.
The state commission will have to decide what to do with them. However,
international inspectors have no complaints as regards the plant. The main
result of its operation so far is not so much tonnes of eliminated chemical
agents, but promises of financial aid from abroad. The funds will come in
handy since there are two more chemical weapon disposal plants under
construction - one in Kurgan Region and the other in the Udmurt Republic.
The remaining funds will be channelled to tightening security at the
existing facilities for storing chemical agents.

[Video shows the exterior and interior of the disposal plant]
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