"It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes."
– Secretary of State Colin Powell, reminding the U.N. Security Council of the perils of VX Gas on Feb. 5, 2003
It's not clear that we'll ever know if Iraq's four tons of VX nerve agent really existed, or if so what happened to them.
If you're looking for huge stockpiles of this deadly chemical weapon, however, you need look no further than Newport, Ind., where 1,269 of the United States' 31,500 tons of chemical weapons are stored awaiting destruction by 2007 under the terms of international treaties.
VX is some seriously scary stuff. As the Council on Foreign Relations describes it:
Known by its U.S. Army code name, VX is the deadliest nerve agent ever created. It is a clear, colorless liquid with the consistency of motor oil. A fraction of a drop of VX, absorbed through the skin, can kill by severely disrupting the nervous system. Although a cocktail of drugs can serve as an antidote, VX acts so quickly that victims would have to be injected with the antidote almost immediately to have a chance at survival.
The bad news: The U.S. military saw fit to manufacture tons of this stuff.
The good news: We're getting rid of it.
The bad news: That means trucking it across the country from Newport, Ind., to Deepwater, N.J. There it will be processed and, according to the Army and the DuPont Co., rendered harmless before being dumped into the Delaware River. Completely, utterly, mostly harmless. Promise.
As you might imagine, the people of New Jersey and Delaware are a bit nervous about this plan.
You can read more about this in "State worries over VX project," by Jeff Montgomery of The News Journal.