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Russia: Yeltsin Signs Chemical Weapons Ban

Moscow, 6 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today signed a law ratifying an international convention banning chemical weapons, according to the Russian presidential press service. Russia thus joins more than 100 countries obliged to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles by 2007. Russia's stockpile, estimated at some 40,000 tons, is the world's largest.

Itar-Tass quotes the service as saying Yeltsin's signature completes the ratification process. Russia's Federation Council unanimously ratified the convention yesterday, following Duma ratification last week.

Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said the ban fully corresponds to Russia's interests and world stability.

U.S. President Bill Clinton thanked Russian lawmakers for ratifying the treaty.

Russia is obliged to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal and convert production plants to peaceful use. Russia signed the ban in 1993, but parliament had been reluctant to ratify it because of money concerns. Officials say Russia will have to spend some $250 million to destroy its chemical arms in the next 10 years.