Albania destroys chemical weapons

Albania has become the first country to destroy its entire arsenal of chemical weapons, a United Nations agency said.

Albania destroys chemical weapons
More than 16,000 kilogrammes of mustard gas and other chemical agents banned under an international treaty were disposed of by the Albanians, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said on Friday.

"Albania is the first nation completely and verifiably to destroy all of its chemical weapons," the agency said.

Inspectors had visited the country on Thursday to verify the destruction.

The United States funded and assisted the destruction of the weapons, which had apparently been acquired in the 1970s by Enver Hoxha, the country's former Stalinist leader.

Forgotten weapons

According to the Washington Post newspaper, the weapons were stored in bunkers in mountains about 40km from the capital, Tirana, and forgotten about after Hoxha died in 1985.

They were later found and declared to the United Nations and United States.

Exposure to Mustard gas can cause severe blisters and result in blindness.

The Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1997, outlawed the production, acquisition, development or transfer of chemical munitions, and set up a tough verification system for dismantling stockpiles.

Six members of the disarmament agency have declared a total of more than 71,000 metric tonnes of chemical warfare agents and by the end of June 2007 one third of them had been destroyed, the agency said.

The US and Russia control the vast majority of chemical weapons but efforts to eliminate them are behind schedule.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Temmuz 2007, 13:34