US Speeds Up Disposal of Deadly Chemical Stockpile

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Richmond, Kentucky - Behind armed guards in bulletproof booths deep in the Kentucky woods, workers have begun pouring the foundations for a $3-billion complex designed to destroy America's last stockpile of deadly chemical weapons.

The aging arsenal at the Blue Grass Army Depot contains 523 tons of liquid VX and sarin -- lethal nerve agents produced during the Cold War -- and mustard, a blister agent that caused horrific casualties in World War I...

... About a third of the World War II-era igloos are so dilapidated that green plastic sheeting was recently draped over them to keep the rain out. Some of the rockets, warheads, mortar rounds and artillery shells inside are just as old -- and are leaking as well...

... In 1975, President Ford signed the Geneva Protocol, a treaty that prohibits first use of chemical weapons. But the Pentagon continued to produce deadly nerve agents in battlefield weapons as a deterrent -- or in case the Cold War turned hot.

By the mid-1980s, the Army had stockpiled 31,500 tons of liquid chemical agents in eight states and on Johnston Atoll, a remote Pacific island.

But political pressure was growing to get rid of the witch's brew. In 1986, President Reagan signed a law to eliminate chemical warfare material and production facilities. Officials pledged to complete the disarmament by 1994...

... Under the defense appropriations bill passed last year, the Pentagon must complete destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile "in no circumstances later than" Dec. 31, 2017. But under the timetable sent to Congress in May, Blue Grass won't begin operations until 2018 and won't finish destroying the munitions for three years.
Read entire article at Truthout

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