U.S. Still Stores 3,100 Tons of Chemical Weapons

Thursday, September 19, 2013
105mm shells containing mustard gas, stored in U.S. Army's chemical depot in Colorado (AP Photo)

While criticizing Syria for using chemical weapons, the United States has maintained one of the largest stockpiles of such weapons in the world.


Today, the U.S. has an arsenal of 3,100 tons of chemical weapons. The munitions, which include sarin and mustard gas, are located at two depots in Colorado and Kentucky.


U.S. officials say the stockpile represents only a fraction of what the military had during the Cold War.


At its peak, the volume of American chemical weapons totaled about 30,000 tons. They were maintained as a deterrent against the Soviet Union, which had about 40,000 tons, until U.S. policy makers decided that nuclear weapons would suffice as a deterrent against an enemy chemical weapons attack.


The U.S. signed and participated in the ratification of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlawed such weapons. Since then, 187 other nations have signed the agreement. For two decades the U.S. has been destroying its arsenal, while missing two deadlines for completing this task (one in 2007 and another last year).


The largest store of chemical munitions exists at Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado, which has 2,611 tons of mustard gas. Officials there expect to finish dismantling this collection by 2019.


Another 523 tons of VX and sarin remain at Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky. The government is still building a facility at the depot for disposing the weapons, which should be destroyed by 2023.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Toxic Paradox: America till has one of the World's Biggest Chemical Weapons Stockpiles. Why?(by Tim Lockette, Anniston Star)

Judge Okays Using Banned Chemical on Navy Recruits (AllGov)


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