The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü, shared the “stark reality that non-state actors are likely developing – and using – chemical weapons” during his keynote speech at the 19th International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference held in London today. He also outlined OPCW initiatives to tackle this threat including the creation of Rapid Response Assistance Teams ready to deploy at short notice to any of the 192 Member States of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) upon their request.
The Director-General described the endeavour to counter chemical weapons threats as follows:
“A priority for the Chemical Weapons Convention is to complete the elimination of chemical weapon stockpiles. We are now moving into the final phase of this work, with over 92% of the world’s declared stockpiles now destroyed, including in the Syrian Arab Republic, although there are some issues still being addressed relating to the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme. The focus of international efforts will then move to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons. The OPCW is already planning for this, but we still have a number of important challenges to overcome before we can reach this stage.”
During his visit to London, the Director-General also met with Minister Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Director-General briefed the Minister on progress on Syria as well as other OPCW activities. The Minister expressed the strong support of the UK for the work of OPCW.
Organised by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which is part of the UK Ministry of Defence, the International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference brings together an international and diverse group of specialists from the military, scientific and chemical industry fields to discuss efforts to eliminate chemical weapons. Ambassador Üzümcü said, “I welcome the important role that the Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference continues to play in supporting international efforts to destroy chemical weapons, and contributing to our shared goal of a world free of chemical weapon threats.”
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