Italy announced Wednesday it is granting 720 million euros (823 million dollars) to Russia to help it destroy its huge chemical weapons arsenal and safely dispose of its Soviet-era nuclear submarines.
The deal was signed by the Italian and Russian foreign ministers, Franco Frattini and Igor Ivanov, during a visit to Rome by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Under the accord, a special facility will be built at Potchep in northwest Russia to destroy part of Russia’s chemical weapons.
Russia has pledged to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons # estimated at 40,000 tonnes and the world’s largest # by 2012.
Dismantling the stocks of military plutonium and chemical weapons, seen as vulnerable to theft in the corruption-tainted post-Soviet era, was made a priority goal in international efforts to halt proliferation, prompting leaders at the G-7 summit at Kananaskis, in Canada, last year to offer up to 20 billion dollars in aid to dispose of them.
Wednesday’s agreement covering nuclear submarines also includes the disposal of radioactive fuel, the Italian statement said.
According to the Russian atomic energy ministry, 192 Soviet-era and Russian submarines have been decommissioned since the 1980s, of which 89 have been dismantled.
Of the 103 nuclear submarines awaiting dismantlement, 76 still contain a nuclear reactor.