Congress Approves Bill Speeding Up Disposal Of Chemical Weapons

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Pentagon would have a 10-year deadline to destroy lethal chemical weapons stored in Kentucky and other states under a bill approved by Congress.

A provision in the defense spending measure would set a 2017 deadline to destroy stockpiles of chemical weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot in central Kentucky near Richmond, as well as at sites in Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Arkansas, Alabama and Indiana.

The measure won final approval Thursday and was sent to President Bush.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was among those pushing to speed up the disposal work. Without the congressional action, the Pentagon had indicated it would not finish the disposal at the Blue Grass depot before 2023, McConnell said.

"It is vitally important that we keep the pressure on the Department of Defense to get the job done," said McConnell, the Senate's top Republican leader.

Craig Williams, director of the Berea-based watchdog Chemical Weapons Working Group, said Friday he was confident the Pentagon can meet the 2017 disposal deadline.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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