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U.S. Destroying Chemical Stockpile

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 1996 – The United States plans to eliminate more than 3 million chemical bombs, rockets, munitions and mines by 2004. DoD is declassifying information on its stockpile, paving the way for its destruction.

The United States began stockpiling chemical weapons after they were used in World War I, DoD officials said. "It became part of our national strategy to prevent other countries from ever using them again," one senior official said. "No other country ever used chemical weapons against us ... because we threatened to retaliate in kind."

With the end of the Cold War and moves toward global disarmament, the stockpile is no longer needed, nor does its composition and location require secrecy, officials said.

According to Defense Secretary William J. Perry, President Clinton said the United States must lead the charge in eliminating chemical weapons throughout the world. "Prompt ratification and entry into force of the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention is critical to achieving this objective," Perry said. "Our citizens and those of our friends and allies will be safer in a world in which chemical weapons have been banned."

DoD recently declassified information on chemical weapons awaiting destruction at a site on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and eight U.S. sites.

"Providing this information to the public, particularly in the communities where these weapons are stored, will provide a better basis for informed discussion concerning their current storage and destruction," said Army Maj. Gen. Robert D. Orton, Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

DoD has incinerated more than 2 million pounds of nerve and mustard agent at the Johnston Atoll facility. This is about onequarter of the total stored on the island, officials said. More than 72,000 M55 rockets, 45,000 projectiles, 3,000 bombs and 134 oneton containers have been destroyed there.

Another destruction facility is scheduled to begin operating at Tooele, Utah, in the next six months. Over the next few years, officials said, destruction is scheduled to begin at Aberdeen; Anniston Army Depot, Ala.; Blue Grass Army Depot, Ky.; Newport Army Ammunition Plant, Ind.; Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark.; Pueblo Army Depot Activity, Colo. and Umatilla Depot Activity, Ore.

The stockpile is being destroyed with full protection of the safety of the work force, the public and the environment, Orton said.

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