US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks after Security Council vote on a resolution that will require Syria to give up it's chemical weapons during the general debate of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 27 September 2013. EFE-EPA/PETER FOLEY/FILE

US ends chemical weapons stockpiles destruction

Washington, Jul 7 (EFE).- The United States on Friday declared the destruction of all its chemical weapons reserves complete, a milestone President Joe Biden praised.

The last two depots were in Pueblo County, Colorado, where there was some 2,600 tons of mustard gas in about 780,000 munitions, and in eastern Kentucky. The first destroyed its last weapons in June and the second, called the Blue Grass Army Depot, was completed Friday.

The depot originally contained 523 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas in shells and rockets.

“The United States has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years to eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons. Today I am proud to announce that it has safely destroyed the last of the munitions in that stockpile,” Biden said in a statement.

The president stressed successive administrations had determined that these weapons should neither be further developed nor deployed.

The complete destruction of the arsenal, he said, fulfills the commitment acquired with the Convention on Chemical Weapons, which precisely vetoes their development, production, storage, transfer and use.

He also said this makes it “the first time that an international organization verifies the destruction of a whole category of weapons declared of mass destruction.”

“I thank the thousands of Americans who gave their time and talent to this noble and challenging mission,” added Biden, who urged those countries that have not ratified the convention so the global veto on those weapons “can reach its full potential.”

US State Secretary Antony Blinken later said in a statement that the destruction of stockpiles of this type of weapons by the US demonstrates the “vital role of international cooperation and transparency in arms control and disarmament.”

In addition, he said this “achievement” in turn accounts for the “threat posed by the possession, development and use of chemical weapons.”

The Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997 and, according to its website, gave the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “the mandate to eradicate forever the scourge of chemical weapons and to verify the destruction, within the established deadlines, of the declared stockpiles of chemical weapons.”

The organization said 193 states have committed themselves to the Convention and that 98% of the world’s population lives under its protection.

“Russia and Syria should return to complying with the Convention and admit their undeclared programs, which have been used to commit atrocities and brazen attacks. (…) Together with our partners, we will not stop until we can finally and forever free the world of this scourge,” Biden said.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that the US produced chemical weapons from World War I until 1968 as a deterrent against similar weapons used by other countries.

These weapons reached nearly 40,000 tons in the US by the end of the sixties and were stored in a total of nine warehouses in different parts of the country. Although they had never been used on the battlefield, the center added, they had become outdated and deteriorated over time. EFE