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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 8, 2008


United States Marks Small Arms Destruction Day

The United States is pleased to join in the annual international observance of Small Arms Destruction Day on July 9. Our commitment to the objectives of this Day is evident in our ongoing efforts helping other countries destroy their surplus and at-risk weapons and munitions, and to helping them properly secure those arms and munitions that they still need.

Last year, our assistance to other countries in destroying their small arms and light weapons reached a major milestone, with over 1 million destroyed since 2001. Our destruction of at-risk Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), commonly referred to as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, has now surpassed 26,000 in 25 countries. Projects helping to destroy additional MANPADS or other conventional weapons (not just small arms), or providing physical security and stockpile management of arms and munitions are underway in Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lebanon, Montenegro, Uganda, and Ukraine, and with the Regional Center on Small Arms, which has 12 member states from Africa’s Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is spending $2 million dollars alone to help Albania safely clean up its Gërdec arms depot which suffered a catastrophic explosion with tragic consequences for surrounding communities in March 2008. The United States’ role as lead nation for the NATO Partnership-for-Peace Trust Fund project to help Ukraine destroy its surplus arms and munitions, the largest weapons destruction effort in history, is another example of its humanitarian commitment.

In addition to helping countries to destroy or safeguard their arms, the United States remains a global leader in effectively controlling its defense imports and exports (including regulating brokers), managing its stockpiles, and sharing best practices with other interested countries.

To learn more about ongoing United States small arms and other conventional weapons destruction activities, visit the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement website at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.

2008/559

Released on July 8, 2008

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