July 2, 2008

Chemical Weapons Transport Plan Decried

The Pentagon is considering a plan to ship chemical weapons to U.S. military sites to speed up their destruction, a report to Congress indicated.

The plan to transport the deadly cargo to sites in four states has drawn the ire of Congress and watchdog groups, who said the strategy puts the U.S. public in harm's way, USA Today reported Wednesday.

In an unpublicized report delivered to Congress last week, the Defense Department said shipping chemical agents such as nerve gas to additional sites for destruction was necessary to make the 2017 deadline in a 1997 treaty banning chemical weapons, USA Today said. Congress would have to change laws forbidding the movement of the weapons, the report said.

The Pentagon said destruction would be accelerated if some weapons at Kentucky's Blue Grass Army

Depot were sent to sites in Alabama and Arkansas, while chemical weapons at the Pueblo, Colo., site were moved to Utah and Oregon.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said transporting the munitions to the Anniston Army Depot in his home state was too risky, even though chemical weapons had been safely destroyed there previously.

Chemical Weapons Working Group, a watchdog organization in Kentucky, called the proposal shocking and irresponsible.