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- The United States has destroyed all its known chemical weapons.
- All signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention have now destroyed their stockpiles.
US President Joe Biden has announced the full eradication of the United States' stockpiles of chemical weapons, marking a significant stride towards a world rid of such lethal arms.
"We are one step closer to a world free from the horrors of chemical weapons," President Biden announced, marking the occasion with hope and optimism, writes RTE.
An achievement for the world
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which monitors compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, deemed this as a "historic success" for disarmament. This milestone comes over a century after the grim repercussions of uncontrolled chemical warfare were witnessed during World War I.
The OPCW has now confirmed that all declared chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide have been "verified as irreversibly destroyed." OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias congratulated all States Parties, particularly the United States, for this significant achievement for international peace and security.
The destruction of lethal substances
The announcement was made following the completion of a four-year operation at the Blue Grass Army Depot, a US Army facility in Kentucky. This operation oversaw the elimination of approximately 500 tonnes of lethal chemical agents, representing the last batch of such substances held by the US military.
Among these chemicals were mustard gases, VX and sarin nerve agents, and blister agents, contained in artillery projectiles and rockets. These were retained and developed by several countries in the years following World War I, despite their devastating impact during the war.
A call for continued vigilance
President Biden emphasized the importance of continued vigilance in ensuring the destruction of all chemical weapons globally. He also appealed to the four countries that haven't yet signed or ratified the treaty - Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan - to do so.
Biden further called on the four signatory countries - Myanmar, Iran, Russia, and Syria - suspected of harboring undeclared stockpiles, to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention and declare their clandestine programs.
Completing the task
The United States was the last of the signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention, effective since 1997, to finish the task of destroying their "declared" stockpiles.
The process of elimination was slow and hazardous, requiring the neutralization of both the chemical agents and the munitions they were contained in. With the end of the Cold War, superpowers and other countries joined forces to negotiate the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Now, after years of focused effort, the United States stands in a position where an entire category of declared weapons of mass destruction has been verified as destroyed - an achievement truly worthy of recognition.
News tips: Thomas Ahlström