US says on track to destroy chemical weapons by 2023

By AFP   September 29, 2017 | 08:00 pm PT
'Over 90 percent of the United States stockpile has been destroyed.'

The United States said Friday that it is on track to meet a 2023 deadline for destroying its stocks of chemical weapons and congratulated Russia on scrapping its own arms.

"The United States remains committed to the complete destruction of its declared chemical weapons. We are on track to meet our self-imposed deadline for complete destruction by the end of 2023," a Pentagon spokesman told AFP.

"Over 90 percent of the United States stockpile has been destroyed," the spokesman said, acknowledging that the target date had changed over the years due to "technological" challenges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the destruction of his country's last chemical weapons on Wednesday and accused Washington of dragging its feet.

The U.S. "unfortunately is not carrying out its obligations when it comes to the timeframe of destroying chemical weapons -- they pushed back the liquidation timeframe already three times," Putin said.

The Pentagon spokesman noted that "Russia has solicited and received very significant funding from international donors," including the U.S., which provided "over $1 billion in financial and technical assistance for the Russian chemical weapon destruction program."

"We congratulate the Russians on their completed chemical weapon destruction. This is an important milestone in the arms control and nonproliferation community," the spokesman said.

Russia and the United States amassed huge stocks of chemical weapons during the Cold War, but had agreed to destroy them after joining the 1997 convention by April 2012.

Both Russia and the United States had to push back their deadlines for getting rid of their chemical weapons.

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