OPCW Provides Technical Assistance for Amesbury, UK Incident

18 July 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands— 18 July 2018 —The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) received a request on 13 July from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) for the OPCW to provide technical assistance regarding the incident in Amesbury.

In response to the request, the OPCW deployed a technical assistance team to independently determine the nature of the substance that is alleged to have resulted in the death of one person and left another person seriously ill. The OPCW team collected samples. The samples will be sent to two OPCW designated laboratories and once the results of the analysis are received, the report will be submitted to the United Kingdom. The team completed its initial work and returned today, 18 July, from the UK.

The UK’s request for assistance was made in accordance with Article VIII 38 (e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Background

The OPCW team works independently and is not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities. No State Party is involved in the technical work carried out by the Technical Secretariat.

OPCW designated laboratories are a linchpin of the Organisation’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons. They must be able to perform off-site analysis of chemical samples collected by OPCW inspectors from chemical production facilities, storage depots and other installations, or from the site of an alleged use of chemical weapons. These laboratories offer the necessary assurance to our States Parties that chemical analyses needed to make determinations or to clarify issues occurring during OPCW deployments are carried out competently, impartially, and with unambiguous results. 

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 193 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. 

Over 96% 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 Peace Prize.

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