OPCW Issues Report on Technical Assistance Requested by the United Kingdom Regarding Toxic Chemical Incident in Amesbury

4 September 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—4 September 2018— The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) transmitted today to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) the report of the OPCW’s mission to provide requested technical assistance in regard to an incident in Amesbury on 30 June 2018.

The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that intoxicated two individuals in Amesbury and resulted in one fatality.

The toxic chemical compound displays the same toxic properties of a nerve agent. It is also the same toxic chemical that was found in the biomedical and environmental samples relating to the poisoning of Mr Sergei Skripal, Ms Yulia Skripal, and Mr Nicholas Bailey on 4 March 2018 in Salisbury.

The UK’s delegation to the OPCW requested that the Technical Secretariat share the report with all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to make the summary of the report publicly available.

The Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, thanked all of the OPCW designated laboratories that supported the technical assistance request for their swift and thorough analysis.

Background

The UK’s request for assistance was made in accordance with Article VIII 38 (e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention. 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, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, 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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