President Biden praised the completion of the process to destroy the United States’ chemical weapons stockpile in a statement on Friday.
Biden announced on Friday that the U.S. destroyed the final munition in the country’s chemical weapons stockpile.
‘For more than 30 years, the United States has worked tirelessly to eliminate our chemical weapons stockpile. Today, I am proud to announce that the United States has safely destroyed the final munition in that stockpile—bringing us one step closer to a world free from the horrors of chemical weapons,’ Biden said.
‘Successive administrations have determined that these weapons should never again be developed or deployed, and this accomplishment not only makes good on our long-standing commitment under the Chemical Weapons Convention, it marks the first time an international body has verified destruction of an entire category of declared weapons of mass destruction. I am grateful to the thousands of Americans who gave their time and talents to this noble and challenging mission for more than three decades.’
The U.S. was under a Sept. 30 deadline to get rid of its remaining chemical weapons under the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which went into place in 1997 and is joined by 193 countries.
Most recently, 51,000 M55 rockets which have GB nerve agent, also known as sarin, were destroyed in Kentucky. The chemicals were stored in Kentucky since the 1940s.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, sarin is ‘one of the most toxic of the known chemical warfare agents.’
‘Exposure to sarin can cause death in minutes. A fraction of an ounce (1 to 10 mL) of sarin on the skin can be fatal. Nerve agents are chemically similar to organophosphate pesticides and exert their effects by interfering with the normal function of the nervous system,’ the CDC states.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that ‘Chemical weapons are responsible for some of the most horrific episodes of human loss.’
‘Though the use of these deadly agents will always be a stain on history, today our nation has finally fulfilled our promise to rid our arsenal of this evil,’ he said.
Chemical weapon usage began in World War I and are responsible for the estimated deaths of at least 100,000 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.