Russia to extend its chemical weapons destruction deadline

Russia recently announced that it has extended the deadline for eliminating its stockpile of chemical weapons until December 31, 2015, due to financial considerations.

Last week, Valery Kapashin, the head of the Russian Federal Department for the Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, claimed Moscow had already destroyed 20,000 metric tons of chemical weaponry - half of its arsenal. Russia was under obligation to complete its elimination program by 2012, according to RIA Novosti.

"The implementation of the program has been hampered by the global financial crisis, which threw it back two to three years," Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, said, RIA Novosti reports.

Kosachev does not believe Russia will face international sanctions for the delay because other countries are facing similar constraints.

"The second largest holder of chemical weapons stockpiles - the United States - has extended its deadline until 2021 after destroying about 90 percent of its arsenal," Kosachev said, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons, in 1993 and ratified the treaty in 1997.

The Russian government has allocated $7.18 billion from its federal budget for the elimination program and subsequently built six chemical weapons disposal plants.