The United States, calling its action "unprecedented," took the lead today in disclosing the exact number and location of its chemical weapons factories.
Max L. Friedersdorf, U.S. delegate to the 40-nation Disarmament Conference, urged the Soviet Union and other countries to make similar declarations to accelerate negotiation of a global ban on chemical arms.
Treaty Held Up
A chemical weapons treaty has been held up during 12 years of talks at the multilateral disarmament forum because of problems in verifying stockpiles and monitoring their destruction along with production facilities.
Today, the United States presented the conference with a map showing the location of its five production plants, details of what lethal toxins are made at each facility, and proposed methods of destruction.
Plants identified were at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, Newport Army Ammunition Plant in Indiana, Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, Muscle Shoals in Alabama, and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Friedersdorf told the disarmament conference, established in 1962 and reporting to the U.N. General Assembly, that the U.S. move was a "major step toward openness."
"The declaration is unprecedented," he said. "No other member of the conference has provided information on its chemical weapons production facilities.
"We urge other countries . . . to declare the location of their facilities and to outline how the facilities would be destroyed."
The United States in 1986 disclosed the sites of its chemical weapons storage depots and followed up in April this year with detailed information on the weapons themselves.
It was only last year that the Soviet Union officially admitted to possessing chemical arms.
Friedersdorf said about 12 members of the conference have as yet failed to even "indicate" whether they possess such weapons, and he said negotiations require honest information.
"Inaccurate declarations will decrease confidence and complicate efforts to ban chemical weapons," Friedersdorf said. "Truthful declarations are essential to the entire process."