Joint Sino-Japanese team in northeast China to dispose of chemical weapons

BEIJING (AFP) Nov 06, 2003
A team of Chinese and Japanese chemical weapons experts descended on a northeastern Chinese city Thursday, to dispose of weapons left over by retreating Japanese armies nearly 60 years ago, state press reported.
Nearly 100 Chinese and Japanese experts arrived to Qiqihar city, in Heilongjiang province where one man was killed and 42 others were injured in August when they dug up five containers of abandoned mustard gas, Xinhua news agency reported.

The team will work with Chinese diplomats, experts and engineers to dispose of chemical weapons that were collected after the World War II and stored in a local warehouse, Guo Haizhou, an official of the Qiqihar municipal government, said.

Although the weapons have been sealed in the warehouse, they were still dangerous due to leakage and because the containers were eroded, it said.

UN officials will join the Chinese and Japanese experts to monitor the destruction at the scene, according to the official.

More than 700,000 chemical weapons are estimated by Japan to have been abandoned in China by its armies.

Chinese experts say as many as two million such weapons are still buried, giving China the world's largest stockpile of abandoned chemical weapons.

Under the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, Japan has until 2007 to destroy all left-over chemical weapons found in China, but due to the large amount of stockpiles experts say it will take much longer to safely destroy so many bombs.

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