THE HAGUE, Netherlands—17 February 2023—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, met with Japan’s Vice Minister of Defence for International Affairs, H.E. Mr Masami Oka, at the OPCW’s headquarters in The Hague.
The Director-General and the Vice Minister discussed challenges in international security and their impact on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Director-General briefed the Vice Minister on the OPCW’s organisational priorities for 2023, including the opening of the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre) and the Fifth Review Conference.
“The international community is facing multiple challenges to address effectively the threats of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons,” the Director-General said. “In addition, with rapid developments in science and technology, the risk of re-emergence is greater than ever.”
“The ChemTech Centre will foster innovation in verification techniques, ensuring that chemistry is used responsibly,” he highlighted. “The ChemTech Centre is a landmark investment, which will strengthen OPCW capabilities to keep pace with scientific and technological developments for the better implementation of the Convention.”
The Director-General expressed his gratitude to Japan and other donors for their support to build the ChemTech Centre. Following the recent acceptance of the building, the relocation of the current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store in Rijswijk will take place in several stages.
The Director-General further elaborated on the importance of the Fifth Review Conference for the successful CWC’s implementation. The verification regime and scientific and technological advances in chemistry, engineering, and biotechnology will be some of the topics in focus at the Conference.
“I would like to congratulate Director-General Arias and the OPCW Technical Secretariat on their work in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, and express Japan’s continuous support to OPCW’s activities,” said Vice Minister Oka.
Japan joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1995 and is currently a member of the OPCW Executive Council. Furthermore, Japan is represented in the OPCW Subsidiary Bodies as following: on the Advisory Body on Administrative and Financial Matters by Ms Yoko Sakurai; on the Confidentiality Commission by Professor Asada Masahiko; and on the Scientific Advisory Board by Dr Yasuo Seto.
The ChemTech Centre is an important upgrade to the OPCW’s research, analytical and capacity building activities. It will serve as a knowledge repository to address chemical threats worldwide, and as a platform for the broader OPCW community to promote expert dialogue, exchange, and collaboration in advancing the peaceful uses of chemistry. The new facility will also help strengthen Member States’ capabilities related to verification tools, detection and response in the case of a chemical emergency.
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.