China and Japan set to begin disposing of WWII chemical weapons

Officials from China and Japan have celebrated the opening of a mobile disposal facility that will allow the Japanese government to dispose of chemical weapons left behind in China during World War II.

Officials from both countries, along with representatives from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, were on hand to kick off the beginning of operations, reported.

Although Japan has already begun to unearth and collect chemical weapons in China, this will mark the first time that a mobile disposal facility will be used to destroy discarded weapons, officials said.

Of the 48,000 chemical weapons unearthed since 2000, 37,000 found in around Nanking will be disposed of by the mobile facility.

Officials told that it is unknown exactly how many weapons remain in China. It is estimated, however, that there may be as many as 300,000 to 400,000 chemical weapons buried in Harba Peak in the Jilin Province.

A deadline to unearth and destroy the weapons was set for April 2012 by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Officials have conceded that the disposal work is behind schedule and expressed hope that the mobile disposal system will help put the efforts back on schedule.

The mobile disposal facility features a detonation chamber where the weapons will be exploded and rendered harmless.

It is estimated that full-scale operation of the disposal facility will begin in October, officials told