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U.S. subsidizes Russia's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

America has spent tens of billions of dollars and made an enormous commitment of our Armed Forces personnel and resources to find Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). So far, only a relatively small number of old nerve gas shells have been found. Meanwhile, the world's largest WMD threat goes virtually ignored.

Russia agreed, under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to destroy its declared stockpile of more than 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. However, pleading poverty, Russia prevailed upon the West to help construct facilities to destroy the weapons. The "international community" (meaning principally the U.S.) responded, providing over a billion and a half dollars in aid. But, according to a recent news release from Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Russia has destroyed only slightly more than one percent of its stockpile and "has no credible plan for destroying the remainder of its nerve gas stockpile."

An April 27 press release from Rep. Hunter cited a recently completed study by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) detailing the abysmal progress of the Russian WMD destruction program. The GAO report notes: "As of September 2003, Russia had destroyed 1.1 percent of its total declared chemical weapons stockpile of 40,000 metric tons. This compares with the 24 percent already destroyed by the United States.... As of December 2003, international donors, including the United States ... had obligated about $585 million and committed more than $1.7 billion toward Russia's chemical weapons destruction." The year-long GAO study also reports that Russia's weapons destruction program "may be further complicated by Russia's definition of destruction, which differs from that of the United States" and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OCPW), which monitors the weapons destruction process. "The CWC defines destruction of chemical weapons as an essentially irreversible process," says the GAO. But Russia, in typical Soviet fashion, insists that the weapons should be considered destroyed after the initial neutralization process, even though the components could be recombined again into weapons.

"Russia's failure further reveals a general unwillingness to carry its own weight in securing and dismantling Soviet-era weapons of mass destruction," said Rep. Hunter. "Without a realistic destruction plan, the United States could end up throwing millions of taxpayer dollars down another black hole." Chairman Hunter's press release noted that "last year, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on a pair of failed disarmament projects in Russia that together wasted some $250 million in Department of Defense funds."

Chairman Hunter estimated that in the 11-year period since 1993, "Russia has spent billions more on new long-range missiles, advanced nuclear warheads, ballistic missile submarines and massive underground bunkers as well as secret biological and chemical weapon programs--all proof of backward spending priorities in the Kremlin."
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 14, 2004
Previous Article:From Abu Ghraib to the ICC?
Next Article:China's religious persecution.

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