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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. to Assist in Audit of Chemical-Arms Stockpile

Russia and the United States have agreed to a joint audit of Russia's chemical weapons stockpile management program, Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin said in Washington last week.

Stepashin said he had agreed to the joint audit in talks with U.S. General Accounting Office head David Walker, to bolster confidence that the program has been managed wisely, The Washington Times reported.

The investigation is to look into the efficiency of the equipment provided to destroy the chemical weapons and into how U.S. money for the program is being spent.

Stepashin, who was Russia's Prime Minister for a few months in 1998, also suggested that the Soviet Union's debt to the United States could be reduced by a sum equivalent to Russia's expenditure on implementing the program. This year, Russia allocated $100 million for the program, and $200 million has been budgeted for 2002.

The invitation for U.S. auditors to look into the program's expenditures is significant because a large proportion of a $260 million sum that the United States contributed to the program, to build a facility to destroy nerve agents in Shchuchye in the Kurgan region, seems to have vanished into thin air.

Meanwhile, residents of the village of Mirny in the Kirov region, near Maradykovo, one of the nerve agent stockpile sites, have complained about a sharp deterioration in their health, NTV television news reported Saturday.

"Virtually all of them, with no exceptions, suffer from several chronic illnesses," the NTV correspondent reported.

Maradykovo stores cluster bombs with a mixture of mustard and lewisite and also aircraft-spray units containing nerve agents such as sarin, the report said.