The Shchuchye chemical weapons destruction facility in the Kurgan region started to scrap complex-structure chemical warheads of missiles on Wednesday, Head of the Federal Department for Safe Storage and Disposal of Chemical Weapons Col. Gen. Valery Kapashin told Interfax-AVN.
"The first warhead has been scrapped successfully, and safety of the new technology has been confirmed," said Kapashin, who traditionally supervised the first shift of officers operating the new chemical weapons destruction line.
He said the complex-structure munitions were unloaded in a special chamber capable of withstanding a manifold impact of explosives. The chemical agent is removed from the warhead and destroyed before the destruction of the explosives.
"It should be noted that Shchuchye is the last facility possessing a stock of complex-structure munitions. As of late February 2015, the plant has scrapped 99.9 percent of warfare agents and the complex-structure munitions are the last batch subject to scrapping. The work will be completed by the end of 2015," Kapashin said.
The chemical weapons destruction process will be finalized at another three Russian sites in addition to Shchuchye - Maradykovsky, Leonidovka and Pochep in the Bryansk region - in September-December 2015, he said.
"As of late February 2015, the Russian Federation had scrapped 85.7 percent of its chemical weapons or more than 34,000 tonnes of warfare agents," Kapashin said.
The Federal Department for Safe Storage and Disposal of Chemical Weapons has gained huge experience in the destruction of chemical warfare agents in the course of the implementation of the federal chemical disarmament program. The professionalism of this department enables Russia to successfully meet the commitments it has undertaken consistent with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
"The Federal Agency started its work in 2002 from the destruction of previous-generation chemical agents (yperite, lewisite and their mixtures) stored in kegs and switched to the scrapping of the newest lethal organophosphorus compounds (sarin, soman and VX) in 2007. In 2012 Russian specialists developed the world's first technology for scrapping complex-structure munitions. The reason they are called complex-structure is that it is impossible to extract explosives from them. In the case of regular chemical munitions, the detonators were removed and destroyed separately, but [complex-structure munitions] required an engineering solution for the practically simultaneous destruction of chemical warfare agents and explosives," Kapashin said.
The processing line developed by Russian specialists proved effective and safe in the scrapping of complex-structure aviation munitions by the Leonidovka plant in the Penza region and the Maradykovsky plant in the Kirovsky region for more than two years.
"The Shchuchye facility in the Kurgan region was storing the most challenging munitions, chemical warheads of missiles. Their destruction required the development of brand new, exclusive technologies and a processing line. A large group of theoreticians and engineers accomplished the project. The last, most difficult engineering task was successfully resolved," Kapashin said.
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