US destroying the last of its once-vast chemical weapons arsenal

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The project is wrapping up decades behind schedule, at a cost of US$42 billion – 2,900 per cent over budget. Read more at

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“It’s been an ordeal, that’s for sure – I wondered if I would ever see the day,” said Mr Craig Williams, who started pushing for the safe destruction of the stockpile in 1984 when he learned that the Army was storing tonnes of chemical weapons five miles from his house, at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky.

Nor did the treaty end the use of chemical weapons by rogue states and terrorist groups. Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad of Syria used chemical weapons in the country numerous times between 2013 and 2019. According to the IHS Conflict Monitor, a London-based intelligence collection and analysis service, fighters from the Islamic State group used chemical weapons at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria from 2014 to 2016.

Workers inside, wearing protective suits and gloves, X-rayed the tubes to see if the warheads inside were leaking, then sent them down a conveyor to meet their doom.At first, the Army wanted to do openly what it had done secretly for years with outdated chemical munitions: load them onto obsolete ships and then scuttle the ships at sea. But the public responded with fury.

Mr Williams was a 36-year-old Vietnam War veteran and cabinetmaker in 1984 when Army officials announced that nerve agent would be burned at the Blue Grass depot. Incinerators in Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon and Utah, and one on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific, were used to destroy a large part of the stockpile, but activists blocked them in four other states.Following orders from Congress to find another way, the Defence Department developed new techniques to destroy chemical weapons without burning.

It yields a residue that is mostly ordinary table salt, Mr Levi said, but is laced with heavy metals that require handling as hazardous waste.

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