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A Step Forward toward Nonproliferation

The New York Times reports on the opening of the new Shchuchye chemical weapons facility in Siberia, a project funded by $1 billion in U.S. aid money to safely decommission dangerous Soviet era weapons that could easily fall into the wrong hands (when the Soviet Union dissolved, these materials were guarded by a simple bicycle lock).  As part of the Nunn-Lugar initiative, it was a project frequently threatened on both sides.

Senator Lugar recalled that he often had to fend off Congressional opposition to the Shchuchye project, especially from Republicans who said that American aid was allowing Russia to spend its own money on bolstering its military.

But Senator Lugar, who plans to attend the opening ceremony on Friday, said that on an earlier visit, a single gesture showed that the storage site endangered the whole world.

“I took one of those shells,” he said, “and put it in a briefcase.”