The United State military has revealed that its last batch of stockpiled missiles armed with highly lethal VX nerve agent outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) had been delivered for destruction.
According to news released by the US Army Chemical Materials Activity media, the US military delivered the last batch of the stockpiled 155mm projectiles carrying VX nerve agent for destruction this week.
Blue Grass Chemical Activity crews (BGCA) moved the last batch of the nearly 13,000 projectiles filled with the highly lethal and persistent VX nerve agent and stored at Blue Grass Army Depot to the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, which has already destroyed 133.2 tons of chemical agent since 2019.
“Our chemical crews and support elements have really risen to this challenge,” Lt. Col. Edward Williams, BGCA commander said as quoted by media on Thursday. “Not only did they accomplish this objective during a pandemic, but under the threat of severe weather and a February ice storm as well.”
“It really is a team effort, not just between the governmental agencies and contractors, but also within the BGCA,” said David Velazquez, director of chemical operations. “We’ve been moving munitions for nearly two years now.
The Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky is one of only two remaining chemical weapons stockpile locations in the US. The other is the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. Chemical weapons destruction began at the latter in 2015.
The Blue Grass Army Depot originally stored over 500 tons of mustard and nerve agents in 155mm projectiles, 8-inch projectiles, and M55 rockets. Each 155mm munition can carry either 6 pounds of VX or 11.7 pounds of a mustard agent.
The facility has already disposed of its 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent, and it began disposing of the 155 mm H mustard rounds in 2019, with more than 64% destroyed by January 2021. Efforts to dispose of the 155 mm VX artillery shells started on January 10, 2021.
CWC is the arms control treaty administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The US claims its objective by destroying the projectiles carrying nerve agents is compliance with the OPCW which enforces an international treaty banning the use and production of chemical weapons and directs disposal of remaining stockpiles.
The next phase of the destruction campaign by US military forces is scheduled to begin in fall 2021, when the plant will start disposing of the M55 rockets, each carrying about 11 pounds of VX, that are still stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot.
Chemical weapons destruction at Blue Grass Army Depot is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 in accordance with the CWC.
The CWC is regarded as one of the most successful chemical weapons treaties.
OPCW is an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The prohibition of chemical weapons treaty entered into force on 29 April 1997.