THE HAGUE, Netherlands—5 October 2022—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias received Mr Kingston Reif, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Threat Reduction and Arms Control of the United States of America’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defence Programs on 4 October.
The Director-General briefed the Deputy Assistant Secretary on the OPCW’s progress in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as the challenges and opportunities facing disarmament diplomacy and multilateralism in the current global security environment were also discussed.
The two high ranking officials also discussed the upcoming completion of destruction of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. Mr Kingston Reif stated: “The United States remains on-track to complete destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile by the planned completions date of 2023. We have expended tremendous financial resources to add technical capabilities at both of our operating sites to accelerate progress. We appreciate the Secretariat’s efforts to maintain on-site verification during the COVID pandemic, allowing operations to continue without impact.”
The Director-General congratulated the Deputy Assistant Secretary for “the unprecedented efforts and progress of the United States to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile. The strong cooperation of the USA to support the OPCW’s verification at its chemical weapons destruction facilities strengthen the Organisation’s efforts to permanently eradicate the scourge of chemical weapons.”
Ambassador Arias also provided an update on the ongoing construction of the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre), which will benefit Member States and the OPCW as they tackle challenges that will remain after completing the destruction of all declared stockpiles. He thanked Mr Reif for the United States’ generous contributions toward its construction. The Deputy Assistant Secretary stated that: “The United States sees the ChemTech Centre as a means for the OPCW to remain fit-for-purpose for years to come.” He continued to remark that: “The United States is proud of its significant voluntary contribution to this important effort.”
The United States of America has been an active member of the OPCW since the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997. The USA is a member of the Executive Council, the OPCW’s executive organ, which is charged with promoting the effective implementation of and compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as supervising the activities of the Organisation’s Technical Secretariat.
The United States is in the process of completing destruction of its remaining chemical weapons stockpiles in line with a decision of the Conference of States Parties. Inspectors from the OPCW monitor and verify destruction progress 24/7. Over 98% of the United States declared stockpile has been verifiably destroyed.
The project to build the ChemTech Centre seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats. The new facility will be used 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 United States has contributed $7 million (USD) to the construction of the ChemTech Centre.
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.