The US will destroy its last remaining chemical weapons by the fall of 2023, President Joe Biden announced on Friday, ahead of next week’s international arms control conference in The Hague.
“We are on track to complete the destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile by this fall – a disarmament milestone that upholds the highest standards of transparency and public safety,” Biden said in a statement posted on the White House website. The US will continue to work with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to “prevent the stockpiling, production, and use of chemical weapons around the world,” the statement read.
Signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which took effect in 1997, committed to dispose of all chemical munition stockpiles. Legally, the US is required to do so by the end of this year. The US pledged to destroy its last remaining chemical weapons stored in depots in Colorado and Kentucky by September 30, 2023.
Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly urged Washington to speed up the disposal process. Russia and China released a joint statement last month “insisting that the US, as the only [CWC] member state that has not completed the destruction of chemical weapons, expedites the elimination of its chemical weapons stockpiles.”
Russia disposed of all of its chemical weapons arsenal in 2017. China has not declared any chemical weapons of its own, but there are old stockpiles abandoned by Japan on Chinese territory during World War II. These weapons are currently in the process of being destroyed.