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Russia: Ministers Praise Chemical Weapons Treaty

Moscow, 5 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's foreign and defense ministers have praised today's ratification of an international Chemical Weapons Convention by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

The convention bars signatory nations from acquiring or using chemical weapons and calls for stockpiles to be destroyed by 2007.

Itar-Tass quotes Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov calling the ratification of "tremendous importance to Russia and the entire world." He said foreign assistance will be provided to help Russia pay the cost of compliance. Russia's stockpile of chemical weapons, estimated at some 40,000 tons, is the largest in the world.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said the Federation Council, which voted unanimously for ratification, had "fulfilled a task of great national importance."

The vote followed ratification by the Russian State Duma last week. The ratification document now goes to President Boris Yeltsin for his signature.

Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said today that Iran has also joined the more than 100 countries who have ratified the convention.