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Letter to Honorable John J. Young, Jr., Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics

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Date:
Location: Denver, CO


Letter to Honorable John J. Young, Jr., Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics

Sen. Salazar to Pentagon: Pueblo Chemical Weapons Destruction Delay is "Unacceptable and Must be Corrected"

Today, United States Senator Ken Salazar sent a letter to Under Secretary of Defense John Young regarding the recent announcement by the Department of Defense that it expects completion of chemical weapons destruction at the Pueblo Chemical to be delayed 23 months because of a funding shortfall. The Department of Defense is required by law to complete weapons destruction no later than 2017 and to provide semiannual reports to Congress on its funding needs. Senator Salazar has worked with his colleagues to fulfill each of the Pentagon's funding requests, including $178 million for chemical weapons destruction in Fiscal Year 2008 and $174 million for Fiscal Year 2009.

"Just a few months ago the Department of Defense reported that they expected to be able to meet the 2017 deadline that we set for destroying the munitions stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot," said Sen. Salazar. "I worked on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues to deliver the funding the Pentagon requested to do the job. Now the Pentagon is saying that their funding request was too low and the project will be delayed. This is unacceptable and the Department of Defense needs to act swiftly to correct the problem. I fully expect the Pentagon to update its funding profile and its 2010 budget request to ensure that the weapons are safely destroyed by the 2017 deadline."

The text of Sen. Salazar's letter to Under Secretary Young is below and can be found here.

Honorable John J. Young, Jr.
Under Secretary of Defense
Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics
3010 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-3010

Dear Mr. Young,

I am writing to voice my concerns regarding the recent announcement of further delays in the timeline for weapons destruction at Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Let me first acknowledge that there has been real progress at Pueblo Chemical Depot in the past year, and this is much to the credit of those doing work on the ground in Colorado and within the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program. However, Section 8119 of Public Law 110-116 requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles by 2017 and to fund the ACWA program at a level that allows it to meet this objective. Section 8119 also requires a semi-annual update detailing the projected annual funding expenditures necessary to meet that deadline.

Recently, DoD announced a 23-month delay to its operations at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and cited a lack of funding among the reasons for the delay. Such a delay would preclude the weapons stockpile in Pueblo from being destroyed before the 2017 deadline. Given the DoD's obligations under Public Law 110-116, this is unacceptable and must be corrected. I fully expect the funding profile to be remedied with your Fiscal Year 2010 budget submission, and I fully expect that submission will restore the 2017 deadline for Pueblo Chemical Depot. To be certain these requirements are met, I request that you provide me with an updated funding profile that will allow the Department to meet its 2017 deadline.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator


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