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NATO opens new center for defense against weapons of mass destruction in Czech Republic

A new center for the defense against weapons of mass destruction was opened in the eastern Czech Republic on Thursday.

Up to 63 experts from eight NATO countries - Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic - are scheduled to work at the center by next year, the ministry said in a statement.

Within NATO's network of centers that provide expertise for NATO commanders, the new facility is the only one to deal with the threat from weapons of mass destruction, the statement said.

The facility, called the Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defense Center of Excellence, is meant to provide training and education and help draft new strategies and concepts for the alliance, it said.

It is located in Vyskov, 230 kilometers (145 miles) southeast of Prague, it said.

The Czech Republic joined the alliance in 1999 along with Hungary and Poland, the first three post-communist countries to do so.