Two U.S. Department of Defense officials and an official from the U.S. State Department addressed the June 30 Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission, following a tour of the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.
“I am doing everything within my power to support Pueblo and the ACWA team, making sure the United States reaches the [Chemical Weapons Convention] treaty destruction deadline of Sept. 30, 2023,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs Dr. Brandi Vann.
Joining Vann during her tour and the community meeting were Laura Gross, director, Office of Chemical and Biological Weapons Affairs, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Department of State; and Craig Campbell, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Threat Reduction and Arms Control. The group toured the Static Detonation Chamber complex as well as the main plant at PCAPP. The trio, alongside Michael Abaie, program executive officer, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, addressed the commission members during their regular monthly meeting.
Campbell said he appreciated the visit to Colorado and the frank discussions and openness between the program and the community. He also stressed the importance of meeting the program’s timelines.
Gross, who fulfills an arms control role at the State Department, stressed the importance of the demilitarization mission and how it impacts U.S. standing internationally.
“At the State Department, we want to continue highlight the excellent work being done here, demonstrating the commitment the United States has to the norm against chemical weapons,” Gross said. “We like to highlight the good work we’re doing in Colorado and Kentucky, then focus on getting [U.S. adversaries] to do what they should to be in compliance as well.”
The timing of the tour took place on the same day the PCAPP workforce reached the 75% agent-destruction milestone. Vann, Gross and Campbell received an up-close view of the workforce’s commitment to milestones and deadlines.
“The announcement that 75% of the agent stored here in Pueblo has now been destroyed has been amazing work and I want to applaud you all in getting there. [The destruction milestones] are things we want to make sure we’re highlighting,” Vann said.