THE HAGUE, Netherlands—6 April 2022—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, met yesterday with the Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), Dr Geoffrey Shaw, at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague.
The two officials discussed progress in the implementation of the Convention including the OPCW’s robust verification regime and efforts to uphold the global norm against chemical weapons. Director-General Arias also provided a briefing about the construction of the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”), which is being built outside The Hague in the Netherlands.
Dr Shaw also toured the current OPCW laboratory that will be decommissioned next year. He also visited the site of the future ChemTech Centre. The Centre where the new laboratory will be located, will become an essential tool to strengthen the capability of the Organisation to respond to the chemical threats, and to enhance the capability of OPCW Member States to effectively implement the Chemical Weapons Conventions (CWC).
The Director-General of ASNO stated: “Australia is delighted to be supporting the Director-General and the OPCW during these challenging times.”
The OPCW Director-General stressed: “I appreciate Australia’s steadfast commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and its unwavering support to the OPCW. I look forward to our continued collaboration to uphold and strengthen the global norm against chemical weapons.”
Australia has been an active member of the OPCW since 1997.
The project to build the ChemTech Centre seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States. The current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store are central to the effectiveness and integrity of the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and they also contribute to the OPCW’s capacity building and international cooperation activities. However, the current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to its ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for enhanced verification tools, improved detection capabilities and response measures, as well as increased capacity building activities. The ChemTech Centre will also help the OPCW to keep pace with developments in science and technology and new chemical weapons threats. Construction of the ChemTech Centre started in June 2021 and is planned to be finished by the end of 2022.
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 99% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.