THE HAGUE, Netherlands—20 December 2023—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, participated in and addressed the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) End of Destruction Operations celebratory event, which was held on 13 December at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony commemorated the destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile which concluded on 7 July 2023.
The end of the US destruction also marks the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles declared by all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The event was hosted by Hon. William LaPlante, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, and attended by high-level U.S. officials, including Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, as well as Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
“As we mark this significant milestone here today, we must also renew our commitment to forging a future free from chemical weapons,” said Under Secretary LaPlante at the opening of the event.
“We will continue to stand with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to prevent the stockpiling, production, and use of chemical weapons around the world. Congratulations to all who made destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile possible. And make no mistake, we will not stop until we can finally and forever rid the world of this threat,” he highlighted.
During the ceremony, the Director-General received a commemorative U.S. flag for OPCW’s extensive efforts in verifying the destruction of all declared chemical weapons stockpiles around the world.
“I am honoured to be part of today’s commemoration of the completion of the destruction of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by the United States of America,” he stated.
“I wish to wholeheartedly congratulate you for this historic achievement. It marks the destruction of all declared stockpiles worldwide, by all former possessor states, fulfilling one of the main goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the Director-General emphasised.
“In the contemporary degraded international security environment, this monumental accomplishment we commemorate today should serve as a strong message for peace,” he added.
In conclusion, the Director-General underlined that further challenges lie ahead of the Organisation and its Member States, including preventing re-emergence and achieving universality of the Convention.
During his official visit to the U.S. from 12 to 14 December, the Director-General also met with the Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States of America, Ms Rebecca Hersman. The two high-level officials discussed further cooperation between the OPCW and the U.S. in relation to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The United States of America 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.
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.
On 7 July 2023, the OPCW verified that all chemical weapons stockpiles declared by the 193 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997 — totalling 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agents — have been irreversibly destroyed under the OPCW’s strict verification regime.
The OPCW will continue to monitor the closure of the last two destruction facilities at Pueblo and Blue Grass in the U.S., including the disposal of waste resulting from the destruction process.
For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.