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"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
The U.S. Cold War-Era Chemical Weapons Stockpile

Last Reviewed: 
April 2022

Contact: Leanne Quinn, Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition Program Assistant, (202) 463-8270 x106

In 1990, on the heels of the Cold War, the United States possessed the world's second largest chemical weapons arsenal after Russia, consisting of more than 31,500 U.S. tons (28,577 MT) of lethal chemical agents and munitions.

Following years of bilateral talks with Russia and multilateral negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on chemical weapons disarmament, the United States decided in 1986 to take unilateral action to begin the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile. The demilitarization effort was prompted by Congressional legislation (Public Law 99-145) calling for the safe destruction of the United States’ stockpile of nonbinary lethal chemical agents and related facilities.

Since transport of chemical weapons was highly contentious - and was later outright banned by Congress in 1994 (50 U.S. Code 1512a) -  the U.S. Army's chemical weapons destruction plan relied on destruction facilities located at the nine U.S. chemical weapons depots in Anniston, Alabama; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Pueblo, Colorado; Newport, Indiana; Richmond, Kentucky; Edgewood, Maryland; Umatilla, Oregon; Tooele, Utah; and Johnston Atoll. Dustruction efforts began at the first destruction facility, Johnston Atoll, in 1990.  

By 1997, when the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (also known as the Chemical Weapons Convention or the CWC) entered into force, the United States had destroyed only 1,434 MTs of its chemical agents and munitions. As a member state of the CWC, the United States committed to the destruction of its remaining chemical weapons inventory.

The chart below summarizes the types and quanties of chemical weapons that were once in the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile, including the agents and munitions that have already been destroyed. To date, all chemical agents and munitions stored at Aberdeen, Anniston, Johnston Atoll, Newport, Pine Bluff, and Tooele have been eliminated; the Pueblo (Colorado) and Blue Grass (Kentucky) destruction facilities are still operational.

The data are drawn from the records published by the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization and the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency in 1996, 2000, 2011, and 2012.

As of April 15 2022, there are 646.7 U.S. tons of chemical agents and munitions left to be destroyed. Official updates on the effort to complete the destruction process at the Pueblo and Blue Grass destruction facilities are available online here.

Under the provisions of the CWC, the United States must finish destroying its remaining chemical weapons by Sept. 30, 2023.

Agent Type Key:

GA – nerve agent, also known as Tabun
GB – nerve agent, also known as Sarin
HD – blister agent, sulfur mustard (nearly pure)
H – blister agent, sulfur mustard (20%-30% impurities
HT – blister agent, sulfur mustard (60% HD and 40% agent T)
Lewisite – blister agent, the central atom is arsenic
VX – nerve agent

Quantity and Type of Former U.S. Chemical Agents and Munitions by Stockpile Location

Storage Site Agent Type Munitions Quantity
(number of munitions)
Destruction
Start Date
Destruction
End Date
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland HD ton containers 1,818 Apr 23, 2003 Feb 2006
Anniston Army Depot, Alabama HT 4.2-inch cartridges 183,552 Aug 9, 2003 Sep 22, 2011
HD 4.2-inch cartridges 75,360
HD 105mm cartridges 23,064
HD 155mm projectiles 17,643
HD ton containers 108
GB 105mm cartridges 74,014
GB 105mm projectiles 26
GB 155mm projectiles 9,600
GB 8-inch projectiles 16,026
GB M55 rockets 44,738
GB M56 rocket warheads 260
VX 155mm projectiles 139,581
VX mines 44,131
VX M55 rockets 35,662
Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky HD 155mm projectiles 15,492 Jun 7, 2019 Sept 30, 2023
GB 8-inch projectiles 3,977
GB M55 rockets 51,740
VX 155mm projectiles 12,816
VX M55 rockets 17,739
Johnston Atoll HD 155mm projectiles 5,779 Jun 30, 1990 Nov 29, 2000
HD 105mm projectiles 46
HD M60 projectiles 45,108
HD 4.2-inch mortars 43,600
HD ton containers 68
GB M55 rockets 58,353
GB 155mm projectiles 107,197
GB 105mm projectiles 49,360
GB 8-inch projectiles 13,020
GB MC-1 bombs 3,047
GB MK 94 bombs 2,570
GB ton containers 66
VX M55 rockets 13,889
VX 155mm projectiles 42,682
VX 8-inch projectiles 14,519
VX land mines 13,302
VX ton containers 66
Newport Chemical Depot, Indiana VX ton containers 1,690 May 5, 2005 Aug 8, 2008
Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas HT ton containers 3,591 Mar 28, 2005 Nov 12, 2010
HD ton containers 107
GB M55 rockets 90,231
GB M56 rocket warheads 178
VX M55 rockets 19,582
VX M56 rocket warheads 26
VX mines 9,378
Pueblo Army Depot, Colorado HT 4.2-inch cartridges 20,384 Sep 7, 2016 Sept 30, 2023
HD 4.2-inch cartridges 76,722
HD 105mm cartridges 383,418
HD 155mm projectiles 299,554
Tooele Army Depot, Utah H 155mm projectiles 54,663 Aug 22, 1996 Jan 21, 2012
HT 4.2-inch cartridges 62,590
HD 4.2-inch mortar 976
HD ton container 6,398
GB 105mm projectiles 798,703
GB ton containers 5,709
GB MC-1 bombs 4,463
GB M55 rockets 28,945
GB M56 rocket warheads 1,056
GB 155 mm projectiles 89,142
GB Weteye bomb 888
VX M55 rockets 3,966
VX M56 rocket warheads 3,560
VX ton containers 640
VX 155mm projectiles 53,216
VX 8-inch projectiles 1
VX spray tanks 862
VX landmines 22,690
GA ton containers 4
Lewisite ton containers 10
Umatilla Depot Activity, Oregon H ton containers 2,635 Sep 7, 2004 Oct 25, 2011
GB 155mm projectiles 47,406
GB 8-inch projectiles 14,246
GB M55 rockets 91,442
GB 500-lb bombs 27
GB 750-lb bombs 2,418
VX 155mm projectiles 32,313
VX 8-inch projectiles 3,752
VX mines 11,685
VX M55 rockets 14,519
VX spray tanks 156

The data on this chart was sourced from the archived websites of the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (June 24, 1997, Oct. 1, 2000) and the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (Sept. 22, 2011; Feb. 6, 2012).