OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, visited the Republic of Korea on 8 and 9 September. In his keynote speech at the Fifth Seoul Defence Dialogue, he spoke about the crucial role that rule-based norms play in removing security threats, and the imperative for all states to join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
He held meetings with The Minister of National Defence, Mr Han Minkoo; Unification Minister, Mr Hong Yongpyo; First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Lim Sungnam and the Vice Minister of National Defence, Mr Hwang Inmoo. Discussions covered a variety of disarmament and non-proliferation issues, including possible avenues for engaging in dialogue with the DPRK to bring about that country’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Speaking at the Seoul Defence Dialogue 2016, Ambassador Üzümcü recounted the success of the CWC in ridding the world of an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. “The unique strength of the Chemical Weapons Convention is that it combines a comprehensive legal norm with a robust verification regime,” said the Director-General, when highlighting the OPCW’s role in monitoring the destruction of chemical weapons and conducting inspections of industrial facilities, adding that “the Convention’s verification regime represents the gold standard in disarmament.”
The goal of global chemical disarmament is still a work in progress, however. Ambassador Üzümcü described new and emerging threats, most notably “the spectre of chemical terrorism.” He stressed that this challenge must be addressed by fully implementing the CWC’s provisions in domestic law and enforcement.
Another important task noted by the Director-General was strengthening of the universality of chemical disarmament norms, which can only be achieved when all remaining four non-Member States, including North Korea, join the Convention. Ambassador Üzümcü, stated that the country “is strongly suspected of harbouring a large chemical weapons stockpile and production capability,” and that “whatever efforts the international community is able to make with North Korea on WMD, it must also oblige North Korea to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
During his visit to Korea, the OPCW Director-General also met with generations of future leaders from Hanguk University of Foreign Studies and Korean National Diplomatic Academy.
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