THE HAGUE, Netherlands—15 February 2023—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, met today with the U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, at the OPCW’s headquarters in The Hague.
The two officials discussed challenges, opportunities, and the way forward in upholding the global norm against chemical weapons in the current international security climate. They highlighted the importance of cooperation for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), including destroying existing chemical weapons and preventing their re-emergence.
“The OPCW commends the unprecedented efforts and progress of the United States to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile. 2023 will mark an important milestone for the OPCW: achieving complete destruction of all declared chemical weapons worldwide,” the Director-General said.
During the meeting, Under Secretary Jenkins and Director-General Arias recognised the recent allocation of funds previously provided to the OPCW by the United States to the OPCW Trust Fund for Syria Missions.
Under Secretary Jenkins applauded the work of the OPCW and the release of the third report of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) on 27 January this year. The Under Secretary stated: “I am happy to announce the allocation of $200,000 to the Syria Missions Trust Fund from funding previously provided by the United States to the OPCW. These funds will help the Technical Secretariat continue its all-important work to verify the full elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program and to establish the facts surrounding alleged use of chemical weapons. This work plays a crucial role in maintaining the credibility of the Chemical Weapons Convention and strengthening the global norm against the use of chemical weapons.”
The Director-General updated Under Secretary Jenkins on the progress of the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre) project: “The ChemTech Centre will be an important tool for the OPCW to address chemical threats worldwide. The Centre will serve to retain and develop knowledge and skills related to the chemical weapons. The Centre will upgrade the OPCW’s research and analytical capacity, as well as training and capacity building activities for experts of the States Parties and the OPCW.
Ambassador Arias expressed his gratitude to the United States and other donors, who supported the project 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 official inauguration ceremony for the opening of the ChemTech Centre will take place on 12 May 2023.
The United States has been an active member of the OPCW since the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997. 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 Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) was established in 2014 to engage the relevant Syrian authorities to resolve the identified gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies in the Syrian declaration. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in the same year in response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, with the task to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) began its work in 2019 and is responsible for identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.
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.