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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 39, July - August 1999

Norwegian Paper Alleges Secret Russian CW Site

On 15 July, the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang alleged that Russia possessed a secret facility for the production and storage of chemical weapons, in operation since 1984 and located near Murmansk in the Kola Peninsular, near the Norwegian-Russian border. According to the paper: "An explosion in the plant could lead to an environmental catastrophe in the Nordic region. There would be damage up to 250 kilometres away." The same day, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry told reporters they had raised the story with the Russian Government and been told it was without substance. According to Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sigvald Hauge: "The Russians have told us today that there is no change in their position, which is that there is no storage, research or decommissioning of chemical weapons in the Kola region... We are waiting for a more detailed reply, but as of today we have no indication that there are chemical weapons on the Kola Peninsular."

The Verdens Gang story was firmly refuted by Colonel General Stanislav Petrov, head of Russian armed forces' Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Service, on 19 July. According to Petrov, the allegation could be exposed as a lie by an inspection conducted under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). "However," as Petrov noted, "this costs money and results in political costs if the complaints prove false. That is why some find it easier to make unfounded accusations through the mass media."

Reports: Russia has secret chem weapons store - Norway paper, Reuters, 15 July; Russian General denies report, Associated Press, 19 July.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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