President Biden has announced that the United States has destroyed its final stockpile of chemical weapons, including nerve gas-filled rockets that were stored at a military site in Kentucky.
This destruction is the result of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into effect in 1997. Under the convention, the US and over 190 other countries committed to destroying their stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin gas and mustard gas, by September 30th of this year.
President Biden stated that this marks “a step closer to a world without the horrors of chemical weapons.” The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed that, to their knowledge, the US is the last country to formally possess and have signed the treaty regarding chemical weapons.
By the end of the Cold War, the US had more than 30,000 tons of chemical weapons, the second-largest stockpile in the world after Russia. Russia claims to have destroyed its last chemical weapons in 2017, but suspicions remain regarding the existence of remaining stockpiles. This also applies to countries like Myanmar, Iran, and Syria, which have also signed the treaty.
Chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian civil war over the past decade. In Russia, opposition leader Navalny was poisoned with nerve gas.
Chemical weapons were first widely used during World War I, resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths, according to the UN. The use of these weapons was prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, yet countries continued to accumulate stockpiles. Since World War I, more than 1 million casualties have been caused by chemical weapons, according to the UN.
The OPCW, headquartered in Hague, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons worldwide.
About the author: Matthew Johnson
Matthew Johnson, a small tech business owner retired and found his passion in journalism.