The government of Iraq has deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the Secretary General of the United Nations and within 30 days, on 12 February 2009, will become the 186th State Party to the Convention
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the implementing body for the Convention. The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, welcomed Iraq’s decision as a significant step to strengthen global and regional efforts to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons.
“Iraq’s accession draws us closer to the Convention’s goal of the universal ban on chemical weapons, and we call upon those nine States that have not yet adhered to the Convention to do so without delay,” Ambassador Pfirter said.
The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition within their jurisdiction. All States Parties to the Convention are obliged to declare and destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.
All States Parties declare to the OPCW the extent of specific activities which could pose a risk to the object and purpose of the Convention. These activities are then subject to international verification and monitoring by the OPCW Secretariat, primarily through inspections, to ensure non-proliferation. States Parties also agree to abide by a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors in order to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited.
Iraq will now be eligible to benefit from the OPCW’s international cooperation and assistance programmes, which provide support in drafting and enacting the legislation necessary to implement the Convention at the national level. This legislation enables States Parties to detect, prosecute and punish any breach of the chemical weapons ban committed on their territory or by their nationals anywhere in the world.
In addition, the Organisation provides support in the practical implementation of the Convention’s stipulations, in particular, the establishment of an effective National Authority to facilitate annual declarations and OPCW inspections, as well as monitoring chemical transfers and maintaining relevant chemical transfer restrictions. Member States also receive training and may draw upon the Organisation’s expertise to enhance their national civil protection in the event of a chemical weapons attack or the threat of such an attack.