THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 12 June 2019 —Twenty-five participants from 17 Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were given basic training on dealing with incidents involving chemical weapons, at the Swiss Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) Defense School in Spiez, Switzerland, from 3 – 7 June.
Course Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christophe Chollet, explained: “During this training, the participants will become familiar with Switzerland’s specialised chemical incident response equipment that – in line with Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention – could be dispatched to a requesting OPCW Member State in the event of use, or threat of use of a chemical weapon within its territory. Our aim is to present the equipment and the proper way to use it.”
The course participants also received an introduction to chemical warfare agents, and became familiar with the fundamentals of individual protective measures, detection and decontamination equipment, and sampling devices.
Attendees came from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.
The Swiss Basic Course on Assistance and Protection has been offered annually since 2008 and is the cornerstone of Switzerland’s approach for meeting its obligations under the Convention.
The course is complimented by the other Swiss training cycles, such as the Advanced, Exercise and Laboratory Skills courses, also offered on an annual basis in Spiez.
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 97% 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.