MOSCOW — A top Russian official said Russia will destroy all of its chemical weapons by the end of next year, a year earlier than previously announced.
Col.-Gen. Valery Kapashin, a military official in charge of storage and elimination of Russia’s chemical stockpiles, told news agencies on Thursday that the remaining weapons will have been disposed of by December 2017.
As a signatory of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia already has destroyed about 93 percent of its chemical weapons, according to Russian officials.
Russia had to build several plants in the past two decades to dispose of the world’s largest chemical weapons arsenal.
Last month officials said the US Army plans to start operating a $4.5 billion plant that will destroy the nation’s largest remaining stockpile of mustard agent, complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The largely automated plant at the military’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado was to destroy about 780,000 chemical-filled artillery shells.
Robots will dismantle the shells, and the plant will use water and bacteria to neutralize the mustard agent, which can maim or kill by damaging skin, the eyes and airways. At full capacity, the facility can destroy an average of 500 shells a day operating around the clock. It’s expected to finish in mid-2020.