Decade of U.S. weapons destruction support in Iraq saves lives

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that it is proud of the decade-long government assistance, programs and partnerships with Iraq, including Conventional Weapons Destruction and Humanitarian Mine Action.

Since 2003, the U.S. has invested more than $235 million to assist in the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance and excess conventional weapons and munitions.

"This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international nongovernmental organizations, has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term," the State Department said.

The State Department said that Iraq continues to face significant challenges from landmines and unexploded ordnance, as well as unstable and poorly secured munitions stockpiles.

During fiscal year 2009 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs invested $4.3 million in the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization for the destruction and removal of 37,939 weapons.

The State Department said that approximately 1,430 Iraqi cities, towns and villages are still at risk from explosive hazards.

During fiscal year 2012, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement gave $25 million for CWD efforts that included safely removing landmines and unexploded ordnance from more than 265 square miles; destruction of more than 135,430 unexploded ordnance and abandoned munitions; and education for more than 40,000 Iraqi people about the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance.