Why America Is 11 Years Late in Its Promise to Destroy its Chemical Weapons


Friday marks the 28th anniversary of an agreement between the United States and Russia to both end their production of chemical weapons and destroy their previously existing stockpiles. The agreement, made in 1990, was largely symbolic, designed to discourage smaller nations from amassing their own weapons of mass destruction. In September 2017, Russia declared it had eliminated its chemical arsenal. The US government, however, can’t say the same.

The original agreement was that both Russia and the U.S. would finish destroying the weapons in 2007. Both countries missed that deadline and got an extension to 2012. They missed that deadline, too, but Russia didn’t need another extension. The U.S. now has a new deadline of 2023. When the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) evaluated the U.S. stockpile in 2012, it reported that America still had 3,134 tons of chemical weapons agents, including mustard gas, sarin, and the nerve agent VX. Read more