Laboratories in Latin America and Spain Increase Analytical Capacity of Substances Relevant to Chemical Weapons Convention

13 July 2017
Analytical chemists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain during a OPCW and LAVEMA course

Analytical chemists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain during a OPCW and LAVEMA course

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 13 July 2017 — Analytical chemists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain advanced their skills in the analysis of chemicals controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), at a course coordinated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Laboratory for the Verification of Chemical Weapons (LAVEMA), held in Madrid, Spain from 5 to 16 June.

In his opening remarks, OPCW’s Director of International Cooperation and Assistance, Mr Hamza Khelif expressed that, “This training will develop technical skills and expertise of national laboratories, and further broaden the network of experts in the region.”

During the intensive two-week course, the 15 participants mastered theory and practice of the use of advanced analytical techniques, sample preparation and interpretation of mass spectra of chemicals. Attendees further learned about the maintenance of laboratory equipment, quality assurance systems in chemical analysis, and opportunities for chemists under the OPCW capacity building programmes.

Experts from the Laboratory for the Verification of Chemical Weapons (LAVEMA) from Spain, a long-term designated laboratory of the OPCW, shared experiences and tips for a successful passing of OPCW proficiency tests. “We hope that this advice will motivate laboratories in Latin America and the Caribbean to acquire the OPCW designated laboratory status,” stated Khelif.

The OPCW intends to continue this programme in the future as it yielded a very positive feedback from attendees. One participant noted: “This opportunity provided new and enriching understanding that will be applicable in our laboratory.”

The course, held annually since 2010, was hosted by the Laboratory for the Verification of Chemical Weapons (LAVEMA) of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) in Madrid, Spain.

The event constitutes a step towards the creation of the Spanish speaking network of analytical laboratories, a new OPCW project supported with a voluntary contribution from the Government of Spain.

Background

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

Ninety-five per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

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