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GOP: Blue Grass Army Destroys US Chemical Weapon Stockpile

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U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Blue Grass Army Depot and the U.S. commitment to the global prohibition of chemical weaponry.

McConnell was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“Over 25 years ago, America made a noble and necessary commitment – never again to deploy or produce chemical weapons and to destroy our remaining stockpiles.

Blue Grass Army Depot in my home state of Kentucky has been home to the bulk of our Nation’s legacy chemical weapons for decades. And on Friday, the Depot safely destroyed the last nerve-agent rocket in the U.S. arsenal.

Last week marks a major milestone in an effort that dates back to President Reagan’s call for a global prohibition on chemical weaponry altogether. After a decade of bilateral negotiations, the United States made an international commitment to ban their use, production, and stockpile for good.

At that time, Blue Grass Army Depot stored over 500 tons of lethal chemical agents. The Army’s initial plan for eliminating the Depot’s stockpile was incineration – literally burning these rockets.

Understandably, local residents were concerned about the potential for poisonous leaks into the community, with schools and family homes in spitting distance.

When I joined the Senate in 1985, our first victory was putting a stop to new munitions entering the Commonwealth. The second came when I passed legislation forcing the Army to explore more advanced disposal options that ensured the safety of local residents.

Over the years, I’ve been proud to call greater national attention to this important local issue. I’ve fought to bring home nearly $7 billion in federal funding to support the responsible destruction of these munitions – and I’ll continue to fight for Kentuckians until this mission is complete.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead this charge in the Senate and push for the safety of Madison County families each step of the way.

We wouldn’t be here today without the singular focus and determination of community leaders like Craig Williams, an extremely effective local advocate who devoted much of his career to seeing this project through.

And, of course, we owe a debt of gratitude to the operators, technicians, construction workers, and other staff for their work on the ground.

Today is as much a story of local success as it is a reminder of worldwide significance. The United States is firmly planted in a wide international coalition that recognizes the moral imperative to reject chemical weapons. And unfortunately, that coalition is more important today than ever.

The authoritarian regime in Moscow that escalated a brutal war in Europe last year is the same one that repeatedly and brazenly ignores the Chemical Weapons Convention that governs our efforts.

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used deadly nerve agents on foreign soil and supported the Assad regime’s use of devastating sarin and chlorine against Syrian civilians.

As we condemn this horror, the American people can be proud that our nation stands squarely on the right side of history. Families in my home state of Kentucky can rest a little easier.

Thanks to the dedication of so many, the United States has shown the world that our commitment to the global prohibition on chemical weaponry is ironclad as ever.”

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.