Albania the First Country to Destroy All Its Chemical Weapons

Thursday, 12 July 2007
On 11 July 2007, the global chemical weapons watchdog agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed the destruction of the entire chemical weapons stockpile in Albania.

Albania is the first nation completely and verifiably to destroy all of its chemical weapons by eliminating in total 16,678 kilograms of chemical warfare agent. The Albanian stockpile included mustard, lewisite, mustard/lewisite mixture, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone agents.

This disarmament campaign was conducted to fulfil Albania’s obligations under the multilateral disarmament treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Any State that possesses chemical weapons and is party to the CWC is obligated to destroy these weapons. Destruction is verified on-site by the OPCW’s inspectors.

In commending Albania’s achievement, the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, welcomed Albania’s completion of this campaign, which had required them to overcome considerable technical challenges associated with chemical disarmament. He also extended his appreciation to OPCW Member States Greece, Italy, Switzerland and the United States for the support they had provided in Albania’s destruction effort.

Since the CWC entered into force ten years ago on 29 April 1997, 182 nations have joined this independent, multilateral disarmament agency to abolish chemical weapons.

In total, six OPCW Member States have declared and secured over 71,000 metric tonnes of deadly chemical warfare agents. By the end of June 2007, over 33% of that total has been destroyed under international monitoring. Over 94% of the chemical weapons production facilities are already certified as destroyed or converted for approved peaceful purposes. As foreseen by the CWC, all chemical weapons stockpiles are to be destroyed by 2012.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is an international, multilateral disarmament treaty which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons. All States Parties to the CWC are obligated to declare any chemical weapons-related activities, to secure and destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons within the stipulated deadlines, as well as to inactivate and eliminate any chemical weapons production capacity within their jurisdiction.

The CWC entered into force on 29 April 1997 and mandated the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to eliminate chemical weapons forever. The OPCW verifies the irreversible destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles, as well as the elimination of all declared chemical weapons production facilities.

The OPCW Member States, together with OPCW inspectors, monitor the non-diversion of chemicals for activities prohibited under the CWC and verify the consistency of industrial chemical declarations.

In addition, OPCW States Parties undertake to provide protection and assistance, if chemical weapons have been used against a State Party, or if such weapons threaten a State Party. The CWC also calls for international cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry.

OPCW on-site inspections are conducted in dozens of countries, where both military and industrial sites are subject to verification.

The global chemical weapons ban is approaching universality: as of 12 July 2007, 182 of the 195 States recognized by the United Nations are party to the CWC and together form the OPCW.

Only 13 States have not as yet acceded or ratified the CWC. Universality of the CWC is a key priority in establishing a global and permanent ban of chemical weapons.

The CWC\'s international jurisdiction now encompasses over 95% of the global

population, as well as 98% of the relevant global chemical industry.

Since 1997, six States Parties have declared chemical weapons and must destroy over eight million items, including munitions and containers—in total, over seventy-one thousand metric tonnes of extremely toxic chemical agents. By comparison, one drop of a nerve agent, no larger than the head of a pin, can kill an adult within minutes after exposure.

Six States have signed but have not yet ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention as at 12 July 2007.

Seven States have not yet acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention as at 12 July 2007.

PR73 / 2007


Categories: Disarmament, Eastern Europe

For further information, please contact Michael Luhan, Head, OPCW Media & Public Affairs. Tel: + 31 (0) 70 416 3710 or +31 (0)6 5356 8512 or media@opcw.org | ORGANISATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, Johan de Wittlaan 32, 2517 JR The Hague, The Netherlands

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