The 27th session of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' (OPCW) Executive Council opened in the Hague on Tuesday. Altogether 41 states, including Russia, are members of the Executive Council. The Russian delegation is headed by Zinovy Pak, the Russian Ammunition Agency Director. The Executive Council is due to debate the issue of extending Russia's term of eliminating its chemical weapons stockpiles - around 40,000 tons of toxic chemical agents. In November, Russia submitted the corresponding request to the OPCW, after adopting a new programme which stipulates for compliance with this pledge in 2012, according to the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Convention. The states formally recognising possession of chemical weapons include the US, Russia, India, and another state, which asked not to be announced. According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, one of the three formal possessors of chemical weapons, apart from Russia, may also ask the organization to shift the deadline of its toxic chemical agents' elimination. The participants in the session are also due to discuss issues of fighting against terrorism and OPCW's possible contribution to the global resistance to terrorism, along with several Russian applications for reconversion of former chemical weapons producing facilities and other issues related to compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW was established on April 29, 1997 and is aimed at complete elimination of chemical weapons all over the world and ruling out the possibility of their use. Currently, 143 states have put their names to the Convention, 31 countries have signed it without ratification, while 19 states (including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, North Korea) have not even signed it.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18