WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. has destroyed the last of its declared chemical weapons stockpile, President Joe Biden said on Friday, bringing to an end a decades-long effort to eliminate the deadly weapons first used on a large scale in World War One.
As part of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1997, the U.S. and other signatories are required to destroy their chemical weapons stockpile by Sept. 30, 2023.
“Today, I am proud to announce that the United States has safely destroyed the final munition in that stockpile—bringing us one step closer to a world free from the horrors of chemical weapons,” Biden said in a written statement released by the White House.
The U.S. has been destroying its remaining stockpiles at U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Richmond, Kentucky.
In 2022, the last M55 rocket with the VX nerve agent was destroyed at the plant in Kentucky.
The U.S.’ stockpile of chemical warfare agents reached nearly 40,000 tons by 1968, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Chemical weapons are responsible for some of the most horrific episodes of human loss. Though 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,” U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
Chemical weapons came to the fore during World War One, which became known as the “chemist’s war.”
According to the United Nations, chemical weapons killed nearly 100,000 people during World War One and have caused more than 1 million casualties around the world since then.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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