A crucial milestone in the process of disarming has been accomplished at a highly guarded location at the Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.
Behind layers of security, including armed guards and barbed wire, a team of robotic arms diligently disassembled some of the United States remaining chemical weapons stockpile.
This marks the culmination of decades-long efforts to eliminate these deadly weapons from American soil.
For over 70 years, the Army had stored artillery shells filled with lethal mustard agents within this sealed room.
However, the bright yellow robots have now transformed them into inert scrap metal, rendering them harmless.
Each shell was meticulously prepared by being punctured, drained, washed, then baked at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The transformed scrap metal then cascaded off a conveyor belt into an ordinary brown dumpster, symbolizing the demise of chemical weapons with a resounding clank.
“That’s the sound of a chemical weapon dying,” said Kingston Reif, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for threat reduction and arms control, to express his joy.
Reif was thrilled to see the effective demolition of yet another shell. She had long been an advocate for disarmament outside of the government.
Milestone Achieved as United States Disarms Chemical Weapons Stockpile
With the completion of this mission, the Army asserts that the work is nearly finished.
The Pueblo depot completed the destruction of its final weapon in June, while the remaining few at a Kentucky depot are scheduled for destruction in the coming days.
The magnitude of the American chemical weapons stockpile, accumulated over generations, was staggering.
It included cluster bombs and land mines filled with nerve agents, artillery shells capable of blanketing vast areas with a blistering mustard fog, and tanks brimming with poison that could be dispersed from aircraft onto targets below.
These weapons belonged to a category so abhorrent that their use was condemned after World War I.
But, the United States and other countries continued to create and assemble them, with some even having more lethal variations of the mustard and chlorine agents that became infamous in the trenches of the Western Front.
While the United States has not deployed lethal chemical weapons in battle since 1918, it did employ herbicides like Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, which proved harmful to humans.
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