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Chemical weapons treaty takes effect without Russia

UN Chemical treaty April 29, 1997
Web posted at: 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT)

(CNN) -- The worldwide treaty banning chemical weapons took effect on Tuesday although Russia -- which admits having them -- and other key countries have yet to sign on.

Through a spokesman, Russian President Boris Yeltsin expressed regret that parliament had failed to ratify the pact, which has been ratified by 87 countries.

The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, discussed the treaty on Friday but said Russia could not currently afford to destroy its stockpiles -- a task it says would cost $5 billion.

The treaty bans the use, development, production or stockpiling of all chemical warfare agents and requires that countries destroy existing stockpiles over the next decade.

The United States, which also acknowledges having chemical weapons, ratified the pact last Thursday.

Iraq and North Korea, which are suspected of stockpiling chemical weapons, have not ratified the pact.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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