Forum on chemical weapons destruction concludes in Geneva: Declares Weapons Demilitarization an Important Tool Against Terrorism And Emphasizes Need for International Partnership

Geneva (ots) - Over 100 representatives of fourteen countries,

non-governmental and international organizations concluded a day and

a half of frank and open discussions in Geneva on Friday, June 27,

concerning the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia. Sponsored

by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Green Cross,

and hosted by the United Nations Mission at the Palais des Nations,

the Forum addressed the challenges of destroying some 40,000 tons of

chemical weapons stored at seven stockpile sites in Russia and

provided a platform for exchanges between Russia and nations

providing assistance.

Director General Rogelio Pfirter of the Organization for

Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, which implements

international oversight and verification of chemical weapons

destruction, exhorted all participants to accelerate and expand their

efforts to help Russia with its destruction plans and to work towards

the current 2007 deadline for global abolition of chemical weapons.

The complete elimination for the first time of a whole class of

weapons of mass destruction "unites us," stated Pfirter, and is "an

important tool against proliferation and international terrorism."

Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Swiss Federal Department of

Foreign Affairs, emphasized the importance of a strong financial

support and of coordinated actions between Russia, the U.S, other G-8

and smaller nations as a key factor for a timely and successful

Russian chemical weapons destruction program. She also underlined the

active and ongoing support of Switzerland for Russian weapons

demilitarization and the recent appropriation of 17 million Swiss

francs to help Russia's multi-billion-dollar effort. Toni Frisch of

the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Jean-Jacques De

Dardel, head of the Center for International Security Policy,

emphasized amongst other the importance of public involvement,

facilitation by Green Cross as a neutral NGO, and community

development in implementing weapons destruction in the Former Soviet


The Forum took place at a moment when destruction efforts in the

five chemical weapons possessor nations are massively accelerating

with a doubling of destruction capacities over the next two years.

For supporting the destruction of the Russian chemical weapons

arsenal, the world's largest, the U.S. has pledged some $900 million;

and the G-8 last year in Kananaskis (Canada) pledged $20 billion over

ten years for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons destruction

in Russia, and reiterated this plan at the Evian summit earlier this

month. Also Russia commits this year five billion rubles ($161

million) for chemical weapons destruction. The need for true

international partnership for the Russian destruction program was

emphasized. The participants underlined the importance of such

informal meeting venues.

Green Cross, President of the Board Mikhail Gorbachev welcomed the

Forum by pointing out the "historic importance" of abolishing Cold

War legacies -- nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons stockpiles

-- and the central nature of these steps to international security

and peace.

ots Originaltext: Green Cross Switzerland

Internet: www.presseportal.de


Dr. Paul Walker

Legacy Program at Global Green USA

Tel. 001/617'201'05'65 (English and German)

Dr. Stephan Robinson

Director of the international disarmament programme at Green Cross


Tel. +41/78/892'48'84 (English, French and German)