US slow to destroy own chemical arsenal

Nov. 3, 2004 at 1:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The Pentagon is falling behind schedule destroying its stockpile of chemical munitions at eight sites, raising terrorism concerns, USA Today reports.

The newspaper reports federal audits indicate the military will not be able to destroy 31,000 tons of nerve gas and skin-blistering agents by 2012 as required by the International Chemical Weapons Convention.

It has destroyed only 6 percent of its arsenal in the last year. Only 32 percent of the U.S. chemical weapon arsenal has been destroyed since 1990.

Two new disposal plants that were supposed to begin work in Indiana and Arkansas this summer still have not opened their doors.

The Pentagon's failure to destroy its arsenal on schedule diminished U.S. leverage with other countries, including Russia. There is concern Russian facilities are susceptible to theft or terrorist attack, introducing the possibility the weapons could get into dangerous hands unless they are destroyed quickly.

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