U.S. Reinstates Funds for Russian Chemical Demilitarization

By Brugger, Seth | Arms Control Today, January/February 2002 | Go to article overview

U.S. Reinstates Funds for Russian Chemical Demilitarization


Brugger, Seth, Arms Control Today


NEWS AND NEGOTIATIONS

ON DECEMBER 28, President George W. Bush signed a major defense spending bill that reinstates U.S. funding for the design and construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility in Shchuch'ye, Russia.

The bill's signing comes after Bush pledged to seek an "overall increase in funding" for the Shchuch'ye project during a December 11 speech in South Carolina. In a December 27 statement outlining the results of an administration threat reduction policy review, the president also said that he would seek to "accelerate" the program. (See p. 30.)

As a party to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, Moscow must destroy its declared 40,000-metric-ton chemical weapons stockpile. The Shchuch'ye chemical weapons destruction facility is one of three that Russia plans to construct and therefore plays a central role in Russia's chemical demilitarization effort.

The Russian destruction program has been reliant on international support. However, for the past two fiscal years, the House of Representatives blocked new U.S. funding for Shchuch'ye, citing questions about Moscow's ability to finance parts of the project that it is responsible for and concerns over the amount of financial support put forth by other countries, among other matters.

A number of factors came together to help win renewed U.S. funding this year. More funding has been promised or received from other countries, and Moscow has recently increased its financing of chemical demilitarization. Domestically, the Bush administration's support for the project, efforts by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) to work with his House counterparts, and leadership by Representatives Curt Weldon (R-PA) and John Spratt (D-SC) facilitated fresh project funding, according to a congressional source.

Appropriations for the Shchuch'ye facility are contained in the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization act, which permits Washington to spend up to $50 million on Russian chemical weapons destruction this fiscal year. …

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