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U.S. speeds chemical weapons destruction

May 6, 2009 at 10:34 AM

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department is stepping up its program to destroy old chemical weapons, budget documents indicate.

Pentagon officials are pumping $1.2 billion into the program, which will be used to speed up construction of two new disposal plants at the Pueblo (Colo.) Chemical Depot and the Blue Grass (Ky.) Army Depot, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Documents obtained by the newspaper indicate the funding is a 60 percent jump in the $3.2 billion program and will move completion of the chemical weapons destruction at the two sites ahead from 2021 to 2015.

The Colorado and Kentucky chemical weapons stockpiles will be the last to be eliminated in the United States and are the only ones to use chemical neutralization instead of incinerators.

USA Today said even with the speed-up, the Defense Department will still finish well behind the 2012 deadline set by the international Chemical Weapons Convention to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon reportedly says it doesn't expect to accomplish that goal until 2021.

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