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Global Partnership

Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction

The G8 initiative “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction” (GP) was launched at the 2002 G8 summit in Kananaskis (Canada). For over a decade it has been making a major contribution to reducing nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological proliferation risks. Initially the initiative concentrated only on the Russian Federation and tackling the Cold War era legacy of the Soviet Union. The priorities were the destruction of chemical weapons, the dismantlement of the reactor compartments of decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines and the secure storage of fissile material at nuclear weapons sites and civil research centres.

In 2002 the G8 partners (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States) had earmarked up to US$ 20 billion for the initiative. With a pledge of up to US$ 1.5 billion, Germany is the second largest contributor. Other pledges were made by the US (US$ 10 billion), the EU (€ 1 billion), Italy (€ 1 billion), Britain (US$ 0.75 billion), France (€ 0.75 billion), Canada (US$ 0.65 billion) and Japan (US$ 0.2 billion). Russia plans to spend US$ 2 billion on destroying its chemical weapons and dismantling nuclear submarines. Other donors are Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland.

In 2006 GP projects were launched also in other Soviet Union successor states and since 2008 GP projects have been under way in other parts of the world as well. At their summit in Deauville (France) in 2011, G8 Heads of State and Government finally agreed that the initiative, which was originally intended to run to the end of 2012, should continue with new priorities and new funding arrangements.

Future GP projects will be concerned with new areas such as biosecurity, nuclear security, the engagement and redirection of scientists formerly employed on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes, implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (curbing WMD proliferation) as well as regions posing nonproliferation challenges. As from 2013 projects are funded in line with their specific requirements and not on the basis of national pledges.

The main focus of the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David during the US G8 presidency in 2012 was biosecurity. Germany agreed to contribute to GP activities in this connection. The Federal Foreign Office accordingly launched a three‑year programme (2013 ‑ 2016) implemented in cooperation with partner countries and designed to mitigate biological security risks and build the required capacities in this area. This German Partnership Programme for Excellence in Biological and Health Security is part and parcel of Germany’s activities in support of the Global Partnership.

Federal Foreign Office projects

The Federal Foreign Office is responsible for the implementation of German Government projects in the areas of chemical weapons destruction, improved physical protection of nuclear facilities and biosecurity. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is responsible for the delivery of assistance in dismantling Russia’s nuclear submarines. The Federal Foreign Office is supported in its work in this connection by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In‑Service Support, which acts as technical adviser. In the area of biosecurity it is supported by a programme office run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Robert Koch Institute – Federal Institute for Infectious and Non‑communicable Diseases (RKI) as well as by a number of other specialised German institutes.

Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Russia

Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Russia
© picture-alliance/dpa

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Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Russia

Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Russia

Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Russia

1. Destruction of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation

For over ten years now Germany has been helping the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), i.e. to destroy its entire stocks of chemical weapons (CW) by April 2012. Its partner on the Russian side is the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Completed projects

a) Gorny chemical weapons destruction plant, Saratov region (2002-2005):
destruction of the entire stocks of 1142 tonnes of mustard gas and lewisite (skin blister agents).

German contributions:

  • construction of tank- and barrel-emptying facilities,
  • equipment of stationary and mobile laboratories,
  • construction of an incineration plant for destroying liquid and solid agents.

Value of German contributions: approx. € 50 million.

b) Kambarka chemical weapons destruction plant, Republic of Udmurtia (2003-2006):

  • planning and construction of a complete destruction facility for residuals, with buildings (including incineration line and waste-water treatment unit), and
  • a tank-emptying facility.

After three years of construction the plant was inaugurated on 1 March 2006; Russian clearance to operate the German equipment was received on 20 March 2007. By March 2009 the entire stocks of over 6300 tonnes of chemical weapons had been destroyed. Value of German contributions: approx. € 150 million.

c) Pochep chemical weapons destruction plant, Bryansk region:

destruction of some 7500 tonnes of the nerve gases Sarin, Soman and Vx, most of which was contained in more than 67,000 shells.

  • Germany provided up to 142.7 million euros to fund the plant’s technological centrepiece: the construction of a massive incinerator for the destruction of chemical weapons and solid residuals, including the relevant operations centre and a waste water treatment unit

The foundation stone was laid on 10 June 2008. Operations started in late 2010. Since then some 7500 tonnes of the nerve gases Vx, Sarin and Soman, mostly contained in more than 67,000 shells, have been destroyed.

d) Kisner chemical weapons destruction plant, Republic of Udmurtia

Germany has earmarked up to 20 million euros for the Kisner chemical weapons destruction plant currently being built in the Republic of Udmurtia. The money will be spent on components and equipment for process control as well as the lining of one of the incinerators. There are 5745 tonnes of nerve gases in Kisner awaiting destruction.

2. Physical protection of nuclear facilities in the Russian Federation

Projects in this area are intended to improve the physical protection of nuclear materials kept at Russian facilities such as closed nuclear cities, nuclear research institutes and Ministry of Defence sites. The aim is to prevent fissile or highly radioactive materials falling into the hands of terrorist groups. The implementing organization for the German assistance is the Reactor Safety Association (GRS). Over the period 2003 ‑ 2012 some € 167 million were spent on such measures. The Russian partners are the Federal Atomic Energy Authority (Rosatom) and the Ministry of Defence.

3. IAEO: Assistance for nuclear security around the world

In 2009 the German Government pledged up to € 10 million from Global Partnership funds to implement measures under the Nuclear Security Plan of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

4. Ukraine: Physical protection of highly radioactive materials

Since 2010 a project has been under way in Ukraine to improve physical protection for highly radioactive materials. With a funding volume of some 6 million euros, the project is due to be completed in late 2013.

5. Libya: Chemical weapons destruction and nuclear security

At the request of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Germany provided logistical support for three inspections of Libyan chemical weapons storage sites, which took place in November 2011 as well as January and April 2012. Air transport to Libya for the OPCW’s team of international inspectors was supplied by the German Air Force. Libya’s transitional government is keen to meet the country’s obligation to secure all its chemical weapons and destroy them as soon as possible. Germany acted quickly to supply equipment for decontamination and analysis. Working closely with the OPCW, it will continue to help Libya fulfil its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In March 2013 Germany, the United States and Libya took an important step and gave the go ahead for a new joint project. The aim is to construct, with German and US support, a chemical weapons destruction facility in Libya along with the relevant infrastructure. Germany has earmarked € 4 million for the project. The money will be spent notably on a German-made and highly advanced flue gas treatment plant, which will allow the highly toxic chemicals contained in the chemical weapons to be destroyed in an environmentally safe manner. In August and September 2013 Libyan experts were trained in Germany in how to operate the plant.

In the nuclear field Germany agreed with the Libyan authorities in May 2012 that nuclear security projects would be vetted and implemented as quickly as possible. In this connection the Federal Foreign Office liaises closely with the IAEA’s Office of Nuclear Security. On current thinking, priority will be given to:

  • modernizing physical protection at the civil nuclear research centre at Tajura near Tripoli,
  • improving the physical protection and storage of medical radioactive sources
  • equipping border crossing points with nuclear detectors.

Preparatory work is under way with other countries on similar projects in the field of chemical weapons destruction and nuclear security.

6. Iraq: Chemical weapons destruction

Following Iraq’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2009, the German Government pledged to assist it in cleaning up sites contaminated by chemical warfare agents. Since then it has been exploring with the Iraqi authorities, in close consultation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), how to deal with the warfare agents stored at Al Muttanah.

A major problem is that nothing is known about the composition and condition of the materials stored there. A detailed analysis is required before any further action can be taken. In 2012 Germany and Iraq agreed that Germany would supply a container load of instruments for detection and analysis. Iraqi experts are also being trained in Germany in the use of these instruments. This will ensure that Iraq has the resources needed to embark on the task of cleaning up such sites.

Germany’s assistance will enable the Iraqi authorities to determine the nature of these suspected chemical weapons. This will cost around € 1 million.

7. German Partnership Programme for Excellence in Biological and Health Security

In 2013 Germany launched a new programme to implement long‑term biosecurity projects under Global Partnership auspices. 

The Programme is intended to help partner countries tackle biosecurity threats (e.g. bioterrorism, outbreaks of highly pathogenic diseases, pandemics). The aim is not only to prevent any misuse of infectious agents that could pose a threat not merely to Germany but also to strengthen the health services of our partner countries in Africa, Central Asia and South America, thus enhancing their national security.

Under this Programme a range of projects are being implemented around the world in cooperation with various specialised German institutes (RKI, Bernard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Friedrich-Löffler-Institut – Federal Research Institute for Animal Health and the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The main focus is on the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Priority is given to six areas: awareness-raising; biosecurity; disease monitoring; detection and diagnostics; networking; capacity-building. With a budget of € 22 million over three years (2013‑2016), we are helping partner countries provide early warning of dangerous and highly infectious diseases, stop their spread and rapidly identify and eliminate the agents responsible.


Last updated 06.12.2013

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