The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, paid an official visit to Washington, D.C., United States of America, last week to meet with Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, and Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Mallory Stewart, and other U.S. government officials.
The officials discussed the importance of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons in the current international security situation. They also discussed the implementation of the unique and robust verification regime mandated by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and decisions adopted by the Conference of the States Parties and the Executive Council to strengthen it.
The Director-General briefed the officials on the progress to build the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (the ChemTech Centre), remarking: “The ChemTech Centre, which will open in 2023, will become an essential tool for the OPCW and its Member States to strengthen capacity to better implement the CWC. The United States has provided generous financial support to the Centre, which demonstrates its commitment to promoting and defending the global norm against chemical weapons.”
The Under Secretary thanked the Director-General for his leadership, remarking: “Thank you for your steady and productive leadership of the OPCW during these eventful times. The United States commends the outstanding work, dedication, and professionalism of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.”
The Assistant Secretary and the Director-General discussed ways to strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Assistant Secretary reaffirmed that the United States’ commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW is unwavering.
The Director-General was also briefed on the United States’ efforts to finalise the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, which is expected to be completed in 2023.
During his stay, the Director-General also met with senior officials from the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Department of Commerce.
The United States of America has been an active member of the OPCW since the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997.
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.