Friday, September 13, 2013

US arsenal of 3000 tons of chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not easy or quick to get rid of a nation's chemical weapons. Just ask the United States.
Three decades after the U.S. started destroying its own chemical weapons, the nation's stockpile stands at more than 3,000 tons - about three times what the U.S. now says Syrian President Bashar Assad controls.
While the U.S. has made significant progress eradicating 90 percent of the 31,500 tons it once possessed, the military doesn't expect to complete destruction until 2023.
Experts say it's probably simpler to make chemical weapons than to get rid of them.
"Disposal requires such rigorous processes to ensure there is no pollution or residual agent," said Susannah Sirkin, international policy director for Physicians for Human Rights, which has been monitoring weapons of mass destruction for more than two decades. "On average it is costing about 10 times more to destroy than it did to make the munitions."
The two basic destruction methods - chemical neutralization and incineration - both require specialized facilities. Using incineration, chemicals must be heated to thousands of degrees. Decades-old storage containers can be leaky and tough to handle. And destruction produces highly hazardous waste that must be carefully stored.