OPCW Provides Technical Assistance to Germany Regarding Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use Against Alexei Navalny

17 September 2020

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—17 September 2020—Further to the statement issued by the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, on 3 September 2020 concerning the alleged poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent, the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW has received from the Federal Republic of Germany a request for technical assistance under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Prior to this request, on 3 September 2020, the Director General received a letter from the State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, H.E. Mr Miguel Berger, stating that German experts had found that a nerve agent from the so-called “Novichok group” could be determined as the source of this poisoning. On this basis, the Technical Secretariat adopted specific preparatory measures to be ready to respond to any request from Germany. Throughout this process, the Technical Secretariat has remained in continuous contact with the German authorities while awaiting their decision. Contact has also been maintained with other States Parties to the CWC.

A team of experts from the Technical Secretariat independently collected biomedical samples from Mr Navalny for analysis by OPCW designated laboratories. Results of this analysis are forthcoming and will be shared with the German authorities.

Background

The Federal Republic of Germany requested technical assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat, under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, in relation to the alleged poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny. Article VIII, paragraph 38(e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention states that the Technical Secretariat shall provide technical assistance and technical evaluation to States Parties in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, including evaluation of scheduled and unscheduled chemicals.

OPCW experts and designated laboratories are a lynchpin of the Organisation’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons. OPCW designated laboratories must be able to perform off-site analysis of chemical samples collected during OPCW deployments. They offer the necessary assurance to States Parties that chemical analyses needed to make determinations or to clarify issues related to such 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 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles (over 72,000 metric tonnes of chemical agents) 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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