The United States completely destroys its arsenal of chemical weapons | International

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On the same day that the United States announced its controversial decision to deliver harmful cluster bombs to Ukraine, especially dangerous for the civilian population, the Pentagon also certified the end of the process of destroying its arsenal of chemical weapons. The last M55 rocket loaded with sarin nerve agent was destroyed on July 7 at the Army Depot in Blue Grass, Kentucky, according to the Department of Defense.

The president himself, Joe Biden, has celebrated it: “For more than 30 years, the United States has worked tirelessly to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons. Today I am proud to announce that the United States has safely destroyed the last munitions in that stockpile, bringing us one step closer to a world free of the horrors of chemical weapons," he said in a statement.

The United States began its chemical weapons program in World War I, more than a century ago, with the production and use of phosgene and mustard gas. It came to accumulate more than 30,000 tons of chemical warfare agents in weapons of explosive configuration and bulk containers.

Congress ordered the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile in 1986, which began in 1990 on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific. In 2012, the US Army successfully completed weapons destruction at six other sites across the continental United States, at facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon and Utah.

Technicians working on the destruction of chemical weapons in a warehouse in Pueblo (Colorado).
Associated Press/LaPresse

While those stockpiles were being destroyed, additional legislation required the Department of Defense to evaluate and demonstrate alternative technologies for destroying chemical weapons by means other than incineration. The successful application of alternative technologies resulted in 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.

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In addition, a team of Colorado companies led by Bechtel National, Inc. completed the destruction of more than 780,000 rounds loaded with mustard agent on June 22 at the US Army's Pueblo Chemical Depot.

The final munitions were destroyed Friday in Kentucky by a joint team led by Bechtel National and Parsons Corporation, using explosive neutralization and destruction technologies to eliminate more than 100,000 projectiles and rockets filled with mustard agent and nerve agent. Destruction operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot began in June 2019, with more than 523 tons of chemical agents safely destroyed.

The United States has thus complied somewhat in advance with the commitment to complete its destruction operations before September 30, 2023 that it acquired before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. That agency is entrusted with the enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international arms control treaty that the United States ratified in 1997. The treaty prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer, or use of chemical weapons by part of all its members.

“This achievement not only fulfills our long-standing commitment under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but marks the first time that an international body has verified the destruction of an entire category of declared weapons of mass destruction,” he also noted. Biden. The president maintains that these weapons "should never be redeveloped or deployed again."

A 2001 file image of a Utah warehouse with containers of chemical weapons toxicants.
A 2001 file image of a Utah warehouse with containers of chemical weapons toxicants.
Associated Press/LaPresse

“We must renew our commitment to forge a future free of chemical weapons. I continue to encourage the remaining nations to join the Chemical Weapons Convention so that the global ban on chemical weapons can reach its full potential. Russia and Syria must return to compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and admit to their undeclared programs, which have been used to commit atrocities and brazen attacks," the president added.

Only three countries (Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan) have not signed the treaty. A fourth, Israel, has signed the treaty but has not ratified it. It is feared that there are others who are failing to comply, such as Russia and Syria, pointed out by Biden.

"Chemical weapons are responsible for some of the most horrifying episodes of human loss," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement. "While the use of these deadly agents will always be a stain on history, today our nation has finally fulfilled our promise to rid our arsenal of this evil," he added.

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