Nunn, Lugar Trip Highlights Urgency of Eliminating Russia’s Chemical Weapons

Nunn, Lugar Trip Highlights Urgency of Eliminating Russia’s Chemical Weapons

At the end of August, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn visited Russia to reinvigorate the pioneering U.S.-funded Comprehensive Threat Reduction Program (CTR) they helped launch a decade-and-a-half ago. The CTR program, widely known as the Nunn-Lugar Program, aims to secure and eliminate the weapons of mass destruction the new Russian Federation inherited from the Soviet Union following the U.S.S.R.'s demise in 1991.

On Aug. 30, the two senators visited the chemical weapons destruction facility that the United States and other foreign governments -- most notably Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Norway and Switzerland -- are funding at Shchuchye. The $1 billion budget for this facility makes it the largest single CTR project.

When the Russian government signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in January 1993, it possessed approximately 40,000 metric tons of chemical munitions, the largest stockpile in the world. Preoccupied with other issues and suffering from severe fiscal problems, Russian policy makers did little during the 1990s to reduce their chemical weapons holdings.

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