THE HAGUE, Netherlands—23 June 2023—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, discussed the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with senior officials of the United States, in the margin of the Executive Council visit to the Blue Grass chemical weapons destruction facility in Kentucky, the United States (U.S.).
Ambassador Arias met with Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, to discuss the importance of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons in the current international security climate. The Director-General highlighted the key role of the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre), inaugurated on 12 May 2023, as an essential tool for the Organisation to keep pace with challenges posed by advances in science and technology related to the Convention’s implementation.
“The completion this year of the destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile represents a historical milestone achievement toward ridding the world of chemical weapons. This is a pivotal moment for arms control that must be recognised for its success and celebrated,” said Ambassador Jenkins.
“As time goes on, the United States remains fully committed to working with the OPCW and State Parties to prevent and respond to new and evolving chemical threats. The United States looks forward to working with partners on implementing the additional funding the United States announced at the Fifth Review Conference to support OPCW programs and trainings, enhance chemical security, and prevent, detect, and counter chemical threats worldwide,” she emphasised.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Ms Mallory Stewart, also received the Director-General for a bilateral meeting. The senior officials discussed approaches to strengthen the implementation of the Convention.
In a meeting with the Deputy National Security Advisor, Mr Jon Finer, the Director-General exchanged views on chemical security issues, including the risk posed by non-State actors acquiring chemical weapons. Moreover, they discussed how promoting the full implementation of the CWC across the globe will contribute to better protecting the world from chemical weapons and the misuse of toxic chemicals.
“President Biden has championed the Chemical Weapons Convention since his time in the U.S. Senate because it is a critical tool for international security and multilateral cooperation,” said Mr Finer. “The United States is proud to stand with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in our work to rid the world of chemical weapons and ensure the Convention can adapt to the threats of today.”
The Director-General also met with Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, Ms Deborah G. Rosenblum, at the Pentagon. Ambassador Arias briefed Ms Rosenblum on how the OPCW is working to strengthen the norm against the use of chemical weapons, to face the present risks and challenges.
The United States has been an active member of the OPCW since the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997. The U.S. is a member of the Executive Council, the OPCW’s executive organ, which is responsible for 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 U.S. has provided approximately €6.5 million in voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology, an important upgrade to the OPCW’s research, analytical and capacity building activities. It serves 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 and safe uses of chemistry.
The new facility also helps 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.