US destroys remaining chemical weapons stockpile successfully

World Saturday 08/July/2023 18:12 PM
By: Agencies
US destroys remaining chemical weapons stockpile successfully

Washington: The United States has successfully completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

He said the development marks a major step forward under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Taking to his official Twitter handle, Blinken stated, “The United States has successfully completed destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile, marking a major step forward under the Chemical Weapons Convention.” The final munition in the US’ obsolete stockpile of chemical weapons has been safely destroyed, the US Department of Defence said in a press release. It noted that this achievement marks the destruction of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.

According to the press release, the OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international arms control treaty the US ratified in 1997. The treaty bans the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by all members. The development meets the US commitment to complete its destruction work by September 30, 2023.

“We have a national security imperative and moral obligation to work toward eliminating the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction,” said US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment, William A LaPlante.

She further said, “This is the first time an international body has verified destruction of an entire category of declared weapons of mass destruction -- reinforcing the United States’ commitment to creating a world free of chemical weapons.” The final sarin nerve agent-filled M55 rocket was destroyed at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky on July 7.

The final munition was destroyed by a joint-venture team led by Bechtel National, Inc and Parsons Corporation, using neutralisation and explosive destruction technologies to eliminate more than 100,000 mustard agent and nerve agent-filled projectiles and nerve agent-filled rockets. Destruction operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot started in June 2019, with over 523 tonnes of chemical agents safely destroyed.

Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the US Army, called it a “momentous day” for the US chemical demilitarization program. Wormouth further stated, “After years of design, construction, testing and operations, these obsolete weapons have been safely eliminated. The Army is proud to have played a key role in making this demilitarisation possible.”

Destruction of the US chemical weapons stockpile, which at one time comprised more than 30,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents in explosively configured weapons and bulk containers, started in 1990 on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific. The US Army successfully completed the destruction of weapons at six more sites across the continental US by 2012.

The US Department of Defence in the press release said, “While those stockpiles were under destruction, additional legislation required the Defence Department to assess and demonstrate alternative technologies to destroy chemical weapons by means other than incineration.”

According to the US Department of Defence, the successful implementation of alternative technologies led to the safe destruction of the remaining chemical weapons stored at the US Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky.

Deborah G Rosenblum, US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defence Programmes, emphasised the dedication of the chemical weapons workforce. She appreciated the efforts of the leadership and workforce on accomplishing this “extraordinary milestone.”

Rosenblum in a press release said, “The level of determination and resolve to overcome challenges has been nothing short of outstanding. This achievement demonstrates our credibility to the international community and has helped move the US government toward closing this particular chapter of US military history.”