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Chemical Weapons

U.S. destroys 45% of its arsenal six months ahead of treaty?s deadline.

by Lois Ember
July 2, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 27

On June 25, the U.S. informed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons—the chemical weapons treaty's implementing body—that it had destroyed 45% of its nearly 31,000-ton arsenal. The U.S. reached this milestone six months ahead of its revised deadline of Dec. 31.

The treaty originally called for the U.S. to destroy 45% of its stockpile by 2004. When it became evident that this was impossible, OPCW granted the U.S. an extension to December of this year.

Army spokesman Greg Mahall says receiving credit for the destruction of VX nerve agent from its Newport, Ind., facility "helped the U.S. reach the milestone sooner, but it wasn't critical to its meeting the 45% deadline." Without this credit, he says, the U.S. was slated "to meet the deadline in early fall."

Russia, which has the world's largest chemical-agent stockpile, with more than 44,000 tons, announced in April that it had destroyed more than 20% of its arsenal. Under its extended treaty obligation, Russia does not have to destroy 45% of its stockpiles until Dec. 31, 2009.

Originally, the U.S. and Russia were supposed to destroy their chemical stockpiles completely by April 29, 2007. Both countries asked for and received a one-time five-year extension to April 29, 2012. Neither, however, is expected to meet that deadline.

U.S. officials have said it is likely the U.S. will not destroy its entire arsenal until 2023. Russia continues to insist that it will be able to meet the 2012 deadline.


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