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Ukraine opens facility to dispose of Soviet-era weapons


08:14, May 22, 2013

KIEV, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine opened a facility Tuesday to dispose of empty ballistic missile casings and solid rocket fuel.

"Today, we can confidently say that the practical implementation of Ukraine's commitments under the interstate agreement on strategic offensive arms limitation entered the final stage," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said during the opening ceremony.

The United States assisted Ukraine to build the new facility in Pavlohrad city in eastern Dnepropetrovsk region under the U.S.-Ukraine nuclear nonproliferation program, Yanukovych said.

The facility has the capacity to recycle about 600 kilograms of non-explosive substances and 60 kilograms of explosives per hour. It will destroy 4,000 tons of solid propellant for RS-22 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 99 empty ballistic missile casings.

According to some estimates, the facility cost around 35 million U.S. dollars, but official data has not yet been revealed.

Ukraine had the third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world before its independence. In 1991, Ukraine inherited about 5,000 nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union. Ukraine removed its stocks of highly enriched uranium in 2012.

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