From the office of Senator Wayne Allard / North Denver – 2006-04-14 08:44:55
WASHINGTON, DC (April 12, 2006) — US Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) said Wednesday that the Department of Defense has officially notified Congress that the demilitarization of chemical weapons stored at the Pueblo Depot and other sites around the country will not be completed in time to comply with either the 2007 deadline or the five-year extension provided under the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty.
“I am very disappointed because, if the work at Pueblo had continued uninterrupted over the past two years, it might have been possible for at least the Pueblo Depot site to have been completed in time for the 2012 extended treaty deadline, although work might have remained unfinished at the other sites” Senator Allard said.
“As it stands now, the Department of Defense is reporting that only 66 percent of the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons will have been destroyed by the extended treaty deadline,” Senator Allard said.
Under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a signatory must notify the governing body of the Convention, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, of its inability to comply with the 2007 treaty deadline one year in advance. The Department of State is expected to do so in the next two weeks.
The Chemical Weapons Convention provides for a one-time five-year extension for those states unable to comply with the 2007 treaty deadline. The notification sent by the Department of Defense to Congress yesterday indicates that the Department will not be able to comply with either the 2007 or the 2012 extended deadline.
Under Section 1521 of Title 50 of the U.S. code (50 USC 1521), the Department of Defense is required by law to notify Congress if the treaty deadline is not going to be met.
“Unfortunately, the Department did not provide any clear indication of a schedule for completion of the Pueblo project, in particular, and all the other demilitarization sites in general,” Senator Allard said. “I’ll be working to make sure that the Department of Defense isn’t using the treaty as a way to back out of its commitments to Pueblo or the other sites.”
“Since our obligations under the CWC Treaty will no longer be motivating the Department, we will need to step up our efforts to ensure the Department does not lose sight of the importance of the chem-demil program,” said Senator Allard. “The last thing we want is for Department to think it can allow these projects to drag on forever.”
On a positive note, President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget request for the two Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) programs under development, one at the Pueblo Depot in Colorado and the other at the Blue Grass Depot in Kentucky, totaled $350 million.
“On the one hand, this year’s budget request was a significant step forward. But, as always, the proof is in the pudding. The DoD’s future funding request is the place where we are really short and where the greatest fight will surely take place,” said Senator Allard. “If the department comes through with a substantial future funding request this summer, then I will feel a lot better about this project and the department’s commitment to it.”
Last year Senator Allard and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) added a provision to the fiscal year 2005 Supplemental Appropriations Act that ensured that the $372.3 million in funding budgeted in earlier years would not be transferred from Pueblo or Blue Grass to other sites.
In addition, it directed the Department of Defense to send at least $100 million to the ACWA sites within four months of the bill’s enactment, and prohibited the Department from conducting a study on the transportation of chemical weapons across state lines. That direction was fulfilled in September of 2005 when the Department of Defense provided $96 million for Pueblo and $4 million for Blue Grass.