RUSSIA: SARATOV: CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARMY BASE

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RUSSIA: SARATOV: CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARMY BASE
Russian/Nat

Russia’s Saratov army base is a time bomb containing around one-and-a-half-thousand tonnes of dangerously deteriorating chemical weapons.

Russia inherited 40-thousand tonnes of chemical weapons from the Soviet Union which, under international accords, must be destroyed.

This is the changing of the guard at Russia’s Saratov army base, 700 kilometers (440 miles) south-east of Moscow.

In many respects, the display of military might is just a show.

Although surrounded by wire fencing, security seems rather light, particularly since the base holds some of the former Soviet Union’s most deadly weapons.

Russia inherited 40-thousand tonnes of chemical weapons from the Soviet Union. International agreements, signed by America and Russia, have declared such weapons must be disposed.

But at Saratov, time is running out.

The majority of the one-and-a-half-thousand tonnes of dangerous substances — including mustard gas — have been stored at the base since 1946.

According to local health ministers, the chemicals are in danger of leaking into the environment.

The containers are old, rusting, and threatening to dump their lethal contents into the fragile ecosystem.

Regular checks are carried out to determine whether there is any immediate threat.

Until three years ago the existence of the dump was top secret and not even revealed to local officials.

It is near the Volga river, which supplies drinking water to (m) millions of Russians.

It is a matter of growing concern for local health officials and the general public.

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