KURGAN, Russia, May 29 (UPI) -- The Russian government said Friday it will destroy 45 percent of the country's chemical weapons stockpile by the end of the year.
Russian Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko said during Friday's opening ceremony of a new chemical weapons destruction facility in the Kurgan region that before the end of 2009, an estimated 19,840 tons of chemical agents will have been destroyed.
"Today, a fantastic team of experts from different countries is gathered at this site. This is very logical, because chemical disarmament is an issue of the utmost global importance and the facility being launched is truly unique," RIA Novosti quoted Khristenko as saying.
"In 2003, we started the destruction of 1 percent of chemical weapons stockpiles. By 2007 we destroyed 20 percent, and to date we have destroyed 36.6 percent," the Russian official added.
RIA Novosti said Russia, which signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, has tabbed $7.18 billion and built four total chemical weapon destruction plants for the ongoing removal effort.