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U.S. Reaches New Chemical Weapons Disposal Milestone

The United States as of last Wednesday had destroyed 85 percent of the chemical warfare materials arsenal declared under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the U.S. Army announced (see GSN, Oct. 5, 2010).

The Army's Chemical Materials Agency by that point had incinerated or chemically neutralized 26,019 tons of chemical agents and eliminated in excess of 2.3 million weapons.

“Reaching 85 percent demonstrates how dedicated CMA’s work force is to the safety of the community, the workers and the environment,” Chemical Materials Agency chief Conrad Whyne said in a press release issued on Monday. “It shows dedication to their country and the safe disposal of the stockpile. I am looking forward to celebrating the end of the mission and a safer tomorrow when we reach 90 percent.”

The United States possessed 29,918 tons of deadly materials such as mustard blister agent and the nerve agents sarin and VX when it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in April 1997. A small amount of the original stockpile had been destroyed by that point.

The Army branch is responsible for eliminating 90 percent of the chemical arsenal declared at the convention's entry into force. It expects to complete disarmament operations by April 2012, the deadline set by the international pact for disposal of the entire stockpile.

The remaining 10 percent of the arsenal is held at storage depots in Colorado and Kentucky, where disposal will be managed by the Defense Department's Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program.

Major demilitarization work for the 780,000 munitions filled with 2,611 tons of mustard agent at the Pueblo Chemical Depot are not expected to begin until 2015 and to finish two years later. The 523 tons of mustard and nerve agents held at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky are now scheduled to be finished off in 2021 (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency release, March 28).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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