OPCW director general talks about new direction

Last week, Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, sat down with correspondent Sandeep Diskhit for an interview about his new position and the direction of the group in the upcoming year.

One of the major topics discussed was the fact that the United States and Russia have 90 percent of the chemical stockpile and are not close to meeting the deadline to destroy all of these weapons by April 2012, the Hindu reports.

"I had the opportunity to visit two industrial destruction factories each in the U.S. and Russia," Uzumcu said, according to the Hindu. "I'm going to visit one more in the U.S. in February and then in Russia. I believe the [process of] destruction in both countries has been really transparent. They've provided regular reports on the progress of destruction. By February 2012 we expect the U.S. to reach 90 percent and Russia 75 percent. For the rest, state parties obviously want them to do it as early as possible. The deadline for the remaining destruction is being discussed in an informal setting at the moment. I hope there will be a satisfactory solution at an early stage so that it doesn't become a political issue."

Uzumcu also said that if Russia and the U.S. do not meet the deadline, it may damage the integrity and credibility of the Chemical Weapons Convention that originally set the April 2012 due date. Uzumcu said that the economic crisis may have slowed resources for the weapons destruction in Russia. If delays occur, Uzumcu said, they will be addressed and the country is expected to be completely transparent about the process.