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US to destroy old chemical weapons left in Panama

The United States will destroy eight World War II-era chemical bombs it left in Panama decades ago, the government said Friday.

The project is supported by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Americans will destroy the eight bombs in late 2017 under an agreement with Panama, the foreign ministry said.

This process will be monitored and verified by the OPCW, it added.

The bombs are located on an island called San Jose off the southern coast of Panama, in the Pacific Ocean.

There, the United States is alleged to have carried out tests with mustard gas, phosgene and other chemical weapons for possible use in WWII and the Vietnam War.

The United States maintained military bases in Panama from the time it completed the Panama Canal in 1914 until its withdrawal in 1999.

After World War II, San Jose island was used for military testing by the United States, Britain and Canada.

The plan calls for the destruction of eight bombs found in 2002 during an OPCW inspection of the island.

This process will take six to eight weeks and begin in September.

The agreement has allowed Panama to get off the OPCW black list.

The United States and Panama have been discussing for years what to do with the bombs.

The clean-up was initially scheduled for 2013 but never carried out because the Americans failed to set aside money for the procedure.

Panamanian advocacy groups say the United States abandoned a lot of ordnance in Panama.

Some estimates say that more than 10 hectares of land along the canal are littered with unexploded conventional bombs.


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