THE HAGUE, Netherlands—3 July 2023—The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United States (U.S.) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) signed a new collaboration arrangement to work together on a wide range of activities relevant to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The collaboration arrangement was finalised on 12 June 2023 during a signing ceremony held between the Director of DTRA, Ms Rebecca Hersman, and the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, in the margins of the Executive Council visit to the Blue Grass chemical weapons destruction facility in Kentucky, U.S.
Partnership activities between the two organisations will enhance work on innovative analytical forensics methods, biotoxin analysis, equipment validation capabilities, trainings for inspectors, and developing e-learning courses in chemical safety and security. Most of these activities will be carried out at the recently inaugurated OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre).
“The U.S. Government and DTRA specifically, is really excited to continue to partner with OPCW in new key areas. This is a document that is a commitment to keep working together and focus on some of the areas that will be so important in the future,” said Ms Hersman.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the U.S. for its continuous support to the OPCW and its activities,” highlighted the Director-General. “This new collaboration arrangement came in a crucial moment for the Organisation to addresses threats and opportunities arising from rapid developments in science and technology, which may have an impact on the Organisation’s work.”
The U.S. 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., as the last chemical weapons possessor state, is close to completing the destruction of its remaining chemical weapons stockpiles in line with the Chemical Weapons Convention obligations. Inspectors from the OPCW Technical Secretariat monitor and verify destruction progress on site 24/7.
The ChemTech Centre is a major investment funded entirely through voluntary contributions from 57 countries, the European Union and other donors totalling more than €34M. Construction of the Centre began in June 2021 and the facility was officially accepted by the OPCW on 27 January 2023. The Centre was inaugurated on 12 May 2023 in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
The ChemTech Centre will enhance the OPCW’s ability to conduct chemical research and analysis. This will significantly reinforce its verification regime and inspection capabilities of chemical industries around the world. In addition, an increasing number of capacity development activities will be delivered through the Centre, including chemical emergency response trainings and analytical skills development courses for experts from Member States.
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.