Chemical Weapons Destruction on Track

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A Defense Department official has decided against moving chemical weapons from stockpiles in Colorado and Kentucky. Instead, the agency will move forward with plans to build plants to destroy munitions at the sites.

Under Secretary of Defense Michael Wynne says in a memo to several members of Congress that a proposal to ship the weapons to existing incinerators around the country has been ruled out.

The decision brought applause from members of Colorado's congressional delegation who had blasted the Pentagon for wavering on its plans to build a destruction plant at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and to ship the weapons around the country.

The Pueblo and Kentucky depots are the only stockpile sites where disposal facilities haven't yet been built. An international treaty requires the United States to destroy the weapons by 2012.

The Pentagon had frozen about $813 million that Congress had previously approved for plant construction at the Pueblo and Blue Grass depots. Officials said the budgets for the destruction plants had grown too large.

The Pueblo depot has about 780,000 munitions containing 2,600 tons of mustard agent.