Director-General Addresses Final Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference in Scotland

22 May 2012

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü visited Glasgow on 21 and 22 May 2012 where he attended the 15th and final international Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation (CWD) Conference, hosted by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). 

The CWD conferences have been held annually around the world since 1998. This year’s final event marked the passing of the 29 April 2012 deadline for possessors of chemical weapons to eliminate their stockpiles, and celebrated the global progress in chemical weapons destruction.  The conference attracted more than 170 delegates from 16 countries and featured more than 90 prominent speakers, including the UK Minister of State for Armed Forces, Mr Nick Harvey. 

Discussions in the conference included a long-term review of the progress made by national CWD programmes, focusing on successes, lessons learned and an exchange of best practices. Participants also looked at explosive detonation technology – given that many countries’ plans are now to acquire such equipment – as well as at chemical safety and security, recovery of chemical weapons from rivers and seas, and innovative technologies

In his address to the conference [PDF – 35 KB], Director-General Üzümcü reported that nearly three-quarters of all declared chemical weapons have now been destroyed under OPCW verification since entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Although this fell short of the final extended deadline, he said the decision of the States Parties on this issue fully preserved the integrity of the Convention and that the three concerned possessor states have submitted detailed plans to the OPCW for destroying their remaining arsenals, together with planned completion dates. In the specific case of Libya, he stated that a number of States Parties have considered providing assistance to enable the government to destroy its remaining stockpile, and that Canada has provided a large sum for this purpose under the Global Partnership Program.

The Director-General also reported that of the 70 former chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) that have been declared in total by 13 States Parties, 43 have been irreversibly destroyed and 21 converted for purposes not prohibited under the Convention. He added that all converted production facilities remain under systematic verification by the OPCW for a 10-year period following conversion to ensure they are fully consistent with the approved conversion requests.