According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the United States destroyed thousands of old chemical weapons in Iraq between May 2004 and February 2009. The organization prepared a written report of its activities to be provided to the Pentagon, which provided a summary of the information to news agencies such as the New York Times. The summary of the information included a table that detailed 95 instances of recovering and destroying chemical weapons in Iraq.
The report from the organization, an international body that monitors implementation of the global chemical weapons treaty, says that the weapons were almost all destroyed via open-air detonation. All of the chemical weapons found seemed to have come from Iraq’s chemical weapons program from the 1980s and early 1990s. That program had been destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War, verified by a period of United Nations inspections that followed. The United States has thus far declined to disclose the precise locations of the recoveries of chemical munitions in Iraq.
The 4,530 munitions covered in the report included chemical warheads, shells and aviation bombs. At times, the old chemical weapons were being used by militants in improvised bombs. American forces quietly took possession of the weapons and destroyed them, keeping secret any chemical wounds sustained by the troops during the operations. By early 2011, the United States had reportedly recovered 4,996 Iraqi chemical weapons.
Not all of the weapons contained chemical agents and none appeared to be manufactured in recent years. Some of the munitions destroyed were corroded and degraded, while others appeared to have been previously demilitarized. All were destroyed regardless of condition in the interest of safety and security.
Almost no reference is made in the report to people wounded while handling the chemical weapons. At least two Navy ordnance disposal techs, Chief Petty Officer Ted Pickett and Petty Officer Third Class Jeremiah Foxwell, were wounded by a mustard shell repurposed into an improvised bomb during the reported years.