Today (22 June) German firms, charged by the Federal Foreign Office, will begin construction of the technical equipment for the chemical weapons destruction plant being built in Pochep in the Bryansk region of the Russian Federation.
Under a G8 initiative known as the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the German Government is supporting the destruction of Russian chemical weapons. In Pochep, the Federal Foreign Office is providing financing of up to 140 million euro for the construction of a building with technical equipment to incinerate reaction masses as well as residuals from the destruction of chemical weapons. In this building, after the chemical agents are removed, the munitions shells are also put beyond use.
Pochep is home to the largest of Russia's seven declared chemical-weapon stockpiles. There are some 7,500 tons of the nerve gases Vx, Sarin and Soman, most of which is contained in more than 67,000 shells. All of these stockpiles must be destroyed by the end of April 2012 in accordance with Russia's international-law obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and that destruction must be monitored by inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The agreement under international law for the cooperation in Pochep was concluded in March 2007. The foundation stone for the Pochep building was laid in June 2008, while the prefabricated plant sections were inspected and accepted by the Russian side in September 2008. Chemical weapons destruction is due to begin in the early summer of 2010.
The Federal Foreign Office has provided Russia with support in this regard since 1995. Following on from the chemical weapons destruction plants in Gorny and Kambarka, which were also built with German support and which began operations in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Pochep is the third joint large-scale project.