Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 24, 2010


Date: 07/03/2008 Description: A large mushroom cloud rises over Sofia after the explosions.  © Wikimedia Commons photo.In recent years, explosions at arms storage facilities in Albania, Bulgaria, Russia, Tanzania, and elsewhere have highlighted significant potential risks to surrounding communities from poorly maintained, improperly stored, or inadequately guarded conventional weapons and munitions, as captured in a new report from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

“Dangerous Depots: The Growing Humanitarian Problem Posed by Aging and Poorly Maintained Munitions Storage Sites,” available at: http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/fs/141988.htm, tracks accidental detonations at foreign military storage sites in recent years, as well as State Department efforts, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to help countries safely dispose of aging arms and munitions and improve stockpile management, two key steps toward preventing future accidents as well as reducing potential proliferation risks.

“Even as the United States and other donor nations and organizations have made tremendous strides in clearing landmines and explosives remnants of war, aging and poorly maintained munitions have emerged as a grave threat to innocent people around the world,” said Andrew J. Shapiro, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. “We are committed to facing this threat and are actively helping other countries to address it.”

Since 2001, the United States has partnered with more than 30 countries to promote safe disposal of surplus and aging weapons and munitions, including 1.4 million small arms and light weapons, more than 80,000 tons of munitions, and nearly 32,000 man-portable air defense systems. In addition, U.S. experts have worked with partners to improve stockpile management practices. Where needed, PM/WRA has also deployed its Quick Reaction Force to help partner countries mitigate risks from potentially dangerous depots, and has helped to safely remove and dispose of materials following incidents at these facilities.

The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction. Since 1993, the United States has promoted peace and security through more than $1.5 billion in 47 countries for removal of landmines and other explosive remnants of war, and the safe disposal of small arms, light weapons, and ammunition. For more information, please visit the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s Web page at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.



PRN: 2010/672