After decades US still has huge poison gas stash

Washington Demands Syria Destroy Chemical Weapons Lickety-Split

This article originally appeared in WhoWhatWhy

The US is demanding, in negotiations at the UN, that all Syrian chemical weapons, stocks and production facilities be eliminated by June 30 of next year. This shockingly short deadline has an element of hypocrisy, because the US itself has been dragging its feet and incredibly slow about eliminating its own stocks of chemical weapons.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to Syria as having one of the largest chemical stockpiles in the world. But the US and Russia both still have stocks of chemicals many times as large. Syria’s neighbor Israel, which refuses to admit it has the weapons and has yet to ratify the treaty banning them, is suspected of also having a large arsenal.

The US caches, at 3100 tons, are three times as large as Syria’s reported 1000 tons.

16 years after it signed a UN Treaty requiring it to eliminate all chemical weapons, the US still has a stockpile three times th16 years after it signed a UN Treaty requiring it to eliminate all chemical weapons, the US still has a stockpile three times Syria’s, and insists it will take another decade to get rid of it all (Pentagon photo)

The United Nations Convention on Chemical Weapons, which Washington ratified in 1997, required signers to eliminate all stocks of chemical arms by 2012. But the US, like Russia, requested an extension to 2023. It claimed that “difficulties involving old chemical warheads” and environmental issues were making it impossible to comply within the framework of the treaty.

Destroying the stocks is no small task. The Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot, in Pueblo, Colorado, still houses an estimated 2611 tons of mustard gas and the Blue Grass Army Depot, Blue Grass, Kentucky, may have on site 523 tons of sarin (the same weapons whose use in Syria caused such an uproar), VX and mustard gas agent. That’s a whole lot of poison to dispose of safely.

Some $10 billion has been spent to date on the process of locating and destroying the US chemical arsenal—and the ultimate cost may top $30 billion. According to the US Army Chemical Materials Agency (USCMA), two huge destruction facilities are being constructed at a cost of billions of dollars each at the Pueblo and Blue Grass sites, by war profiteer extraordinaire Bechtel Parsons.

In other words, disposing of chemical weapons is not something you just do, like snapping your fingers…

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