OPCW Launches Challenge Inspection Exercise 2011

28 October 2011

On 27 October 2011 the OPCW launched an exercise to test the Organisation’s readiness to conduct a challenge inspection under Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It will be conducted at the OPCW Headquarters in The Hague and at an undisclosed field location in Thailand, the first Asian country to host such an exercise.  

Under Article IX, any State Party has the right to request the OPCW to conduct a short-notice inspection in another State Party if it has concerns about compliance with the Convention, which comprehensively bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The OPCW Technical Secretariat must therefore be prepared to conduct a challenge inspection anywhere in the world.

The exercise began at 10:00 on Thursday with the submission to the OPCW Director-General of a request by Australia, playing the role of the “Requesting State Party”, for a challenge inspection in Thailand, the “Inspected State Party”. While the timing for the field portion of the exercise has been known for some time, the launch at the OPCW headquarters was unannounced to test internal procedures as realistically as possible.

The exercise is based on a purely hypothetical scenario that was developed jointly by a planning group from Thailand, Australia and OPCW headquarters. The field portion will commence on 31 October with the arrival in Thailand of 25 OPCW inspectors, who will be transported to an industrial chemical plant site outside of Bangkok where a mock inspection will take place. The inspectors are unaware of the details of the scenario and must conduct inspection activities according to facts as they become known. 

An evaluation of the exercise will be conducted by an independent team of experts who will observe the activities. Daily updates of the exercise will be posted on the OPCW website, including short videos from both OPCW headquarters and the exercise site in Thailand.