NATO Helps Montenegro Dispose of Yugoslav Weapons

The Montenegrin Defence Ministry and NATO will soon begin a 15-month programme to destroy 416 tonnes of surplus ammunition and explosives, in an attempt to solve one of the biggest security challenges in the country, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The agreement which the Montenegrin government signed with the NATO armaments procurement agency NSPO provides for the safe destruction of surplus weapons and ordnance which the state did not have the resources to decommission itself.

The mines and other explosives, mostly high-calibre naval and air force ordnance, are located in military warehouses in Pristan, in the Boka Bay on the Adriatic coast, and in Taras, near the capital Podgorica.

"The Ministry of Defence has persistently sought to find the safest way to destroy this part of the surplus, which poses a threat to people and the environment," a ministry statement said.

For almost a decade, Montenegro has been struggling to dispose of a surplus of obsolete weapons, ammunition and explosive devices that have been stored in neglected and poorly equipped military warehouses.

The biggest problem was the disposal of highly toxic hazardous waste, mostly liquid explosive charges from naval mines.

After the split from Serbia in 2006, Montenegro was left with 12,136 tons of ammunition in military warehouses, although the country's estimated needs were only around 2,300 thousand tons.

It was also left with 74,639 weapons of various types (excluding firearms), of which around 1,000 were heavy artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and tanks.

They came from the wartime reserves of the former Yugoslav People's Army, which stored its arms and ammunition for emergency situations in Montenegro.

Most of the weapons were...

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