THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 21 May 2019 — First responders from 11 states in Asia enhanced their capabilities in responding to chemical emergencies during a regional basic training course held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 13 – 17 May.
The specialised training was conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in collaboration with the Republic of Korea’s CBRN Defence Command.
The course provided the participants with first-hand experience in monitoring, detection and decontamination operations, as well as first aid in the field. In addition to theoretical knowledge, the training included practical sessions on working in a contaminated environment by training participants in the use of detection and protection equipment.
Commander of the CBRN Defence Command, Brigadier General Dong Kwan Ryu, emphasised the importance of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention on assistance and protection against chemical weapons. He added: “It is in the interest of the Republic of Korea to contribute to the OPCW’s international capacity building programmes by hosting such training courses and sharing our experience on chemical defence.”
Addressing the course participants, Senior Program Officer of the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, Mr Shahriar Khateri, stressed that the Organisation places considerable importance on boosting the capacity of its Member States to tackle incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. “This course will also create a regional network of chemical emergency response experts,” he underlined.
Twenty-five participants represented the following OPCW Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka.
The first responders will continue their training with the upcoming advanced course in Malaysia in September, followed by a field exercise in Singapore in December 2019.
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.
Ninety-seven percent 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.