NBC Weapons: October 25, 2004

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The U.S. will start destroying 16 tons of leftover chemical weapons in Albania. The former communist government built up the cache more than 15 years ago in a small brick depot in a rural area. It will cost around $20 million over the next two years to destroy the cache, a bill the U.S. has agreed to underwrite since the Albanian government doesnt have the resources to clean up the mess. Already, the U.S. has installed fences and surveillance gear around the site to prevent it from being plundered.

Albanias current government discovered the depot when they were surveying the country for hidden small-arms caches tucked away across the country by the former regime. Before the communists were overthrown in 1990, Albania was run by Europes most isolated and eccentric Marxist government. Due to security considerations, U.S. officials arent discussing details about the cache, but the chemicals could either be loaded into bombs or artillery shells or used by terrorists in an attack against civilians. 

Discovery of the cache has U.S. and European proliferation experts concerned about other potential unsecured and undocumented sites across the former Warsaw Pact. While the biggest concern is over terrorists getting their hands on the material, theres no great desire for it falling into the hands of Bosnian factions. Doug Mohney

 


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