Detoxing Russia's Weapons

Cleaning up Russia's old stockpiles of Soviet-era nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons took on new urgency after Sept. 11. What if the remaining materials were smuggled to terrorists or to Iraq? President Bush has stated that preventing such a possibility is "our highest priority."

This week, Mr. Bush finally was able to release nearly a half billion dollars to continue this clean-up, especially of chemical weapons. The multiyear program had been effectively delayed by a few Republicans in Congress who distrusted the Russian side of the effort.

To be sure, President Vladimir Putin must do more to ensure the Russian bureaucracy doesn't hinder the clean-up, or steal US money, as has been alleged.

Other countries, such as Canada, have joined the US in offering Russia more aid to rid itself of these materials, and to keep Russian scientists ably employed in safer enterprises.

Despite all the bureaucratic problems, this effort in Russia must proceed as quickly as possible to prevent a far worse attack on the US than occurred on Sept. 11.

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