President Biden has announced that the United States has destroyed the last of its chemical weapons. These include nerve gas missiles stored at a military base in Kentucky.
Destruction is an extension of the Chemical Weapons Convention that came into force in 1997. In it, the United States and more than 190 other countries agreed to destroy their stockpiles of sarin and mustard gas before September 30 this year.
President Biden speaks of “one step closer to a world free of the horrors of chemical weapons.” The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, says the United States is the last known country to formally possess chemical weapons and sign the treaty.
At the end of the Cold War, the United States had more than 30,000 tons of chemical weapons, the second largest in the world after Russia. The country says it destroyed the last of its chemical weapons in 2017, but a stockpile is suspected to still be behind. This also applies to Myanmar, Iran and Syria.
For example, chemical weapons have been used in the civil war in Syria for the past decade. In Russia, opposition leader Navalny was poisoned with nerve gas.
The Geneva Convention
Chemical weapons first saw widespread use in World War I, killing nearly 100,000 people, according to the UN. The use of the weapons was prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, but countries continued to stockpile them despite this. The UN estimates that more than 1 million people have been killed by chemical weapons since World War I.
The Hague-based OPCW was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
“Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator.”