The U.S. Army has begun destroying the chemical stockpile of mustard agent weapons from the World War II era, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative or ACWA program announced on March 17. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, gave the final approval for the destruction of 2,611 tons of chemical weapons. The destruction is in observance with the U.S.A.’s commitment to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.
100 Percent Destruction of U.S. Chemical Weapons
“After months of preparation, testing and scrutiny by oversight and regulatory agencies, the Pueblo team is ready to play its part in meeting our nation’s commitment to the 100 percent destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile,” program executive officer for ACWA Conrad F. Whyne said in a statement.
The destruction shall be concluded in the late 2015 or early 2016, ACWA said. It will be initiated by the Explosive Destruction System or EDS at the depot near the Pueblo Chemical agent-Destruction Pilot Plant or PCAPP. The EDS is tasked to destroy an estimated 1,300 problematic chemical weapons that will be difficult for the main plant’s automated equipment to handle.
EDS shall destroy munitions that were found to have leaked in the past and have overflowed in sealed containers. The EDS shall also destroy munitions that have physically deteriorated.
ACWA spokesman Thomas Schultz said crews are looking forward to the task.
“Crews out here are very excited. We’ve been waiting a very long time,” Schultz told Reuters.
Chemical weapons such as the mustard agent was used as far back as the World War I. However, the Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibited the use of such weapons.
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The U.S. stored tons of chemical weapons during the Cold War Era in 1940’s. As one among the signatory countries to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, U.S. agreed to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons.