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US destroys all of its supply of toxic nerve agent, the military’s last chemical weapons

An operator wearing protective gear cuts the metal bands on a pallet of M55 rockets containing GB (sarin) nerve agent on July 6, 2022, at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Ky.A worker at the Blue Grass Army Depot cuts the metal bands on a pallet of M55 rockets containing sarin.

U.S. Army via AP

  • The US military has destroyed the last of its chemical weapons, President Joe Biden announced.
  • The US was the last party to a 1997 treaty to eliminate its stockpile.
  • But the head of the OPCW warned: “Preventing re-emergence will remain a priority.”

The US military has destroyed the last of its chemical weapons as part of an international campaign that began in 1997, President Joe Biden announced.

The weapons were eliminated at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, where as many as 51,000 M55 rockets containing sarin — a toxic nerve agent — had been stored since the 1940s, The Guardian reported.

Just a small amount of sarin gas can be deadly. Here’s what sarin gas is and what it does to the body, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US was the last of the 193 countries that signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention to eradicate its stockpiles ahead of a September 30 deadline.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Nobel peace prize-winning organization that oversees the treaty, confirmed in a statement that the last chemical weapons declared by the convention’s parties were destroyed.

“The end of all declared chemical weapons stockpiles is an important milestone for the organization,” said Fernando Arias, the director-general of the OPCW. “It is a critical step towards achieving its mission to permanently eliminate all chemical weapons.”

The disposal by the US military was the final chapter of a global destruction process of more than 30,000 tons of chemical weapons, per The Guardian.

OPCW said it would continue to monitor the closure of Blue Grass and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and ensure the safe disposal of waste.

But Arias also warned that “recent uses and threats of use of toxic chemicals as weapons illustrate that preventing re-emergence will remain a priority.”

A person wearing a gas mask.

cyano66 / Getty Images

Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan are the only nations not to have signed the treaty, according to The Guardian.

“I continue to encourage the remaining nations to join the Chemical Weapons Convention so that the global ban on chemical weapons can reach its fullest potential,” Biden said in a statement.

The president added that Russia and Syria had undeclared chemical weapons programs, “which have been used to commit brazen atrocities and attacks.”

In 2018,  barrel bombs filled with chlorine and sarin gases reportedly fell on and near a hospital in Douma, Syria, killing dozens of men, women, and children.

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