Chemical Weapons News – April 20

Today’ Zaman has an editorial by OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter called “The Chemical Weapons Convention and the Middle East.”

Chemical disposal workers keeping neighbors safe – Katherine Poythress – Daily Home Online
Every day, like well-oiled parts on a fine-tuned machine, 31 Talladega County residents travel to Anniston to help make their region a safer place to live. They are not law enforcers, and they…

Crystal dig to open Saturday – Enid News
The Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge Selenite Crystal Dig Area will re-open at 8 a.m. Saturday. The dig area has been closed since April 2007 when vials from Chemical Agent Identification Sets were found…

OPCW chief calls for chemical weapons-free Middle East – Today’s Zaman
Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has called on Middle Eastern countries Egypt, Israel and Syria, which remain outside the Chemical Weapons Convention, to join the convention…

Modern warfare takes a biological route, not chemical – Eilish Brown – The Mount Holyoke News
In a time of constant discussion about terrorism and guerrilla warfare, it is important to understand the two most dangerous weapons available. Chemical weapons have been used for thousands of years…

Mustard Agent Leak Found at Utah CW Storage Site – Global Security Newswire
Workers at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah found Tuesday that a small amount of mustard agent had escaped from one bulk container…

Grand Jury Issues No Indictments in Probe of Kentucky Chemical Depot – Global Security Newswire
A federal grand jury ended its inquiry into alleged misconduct at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky without issuing any indictments, the Richmond Register reported…

Probe ends in no depot indictments – Bill Robinson – The Richmond Register
A federal grand jury probe into alleged wrongdoing at the Blue Grass Army Depot’s chemical weapons stockpile has ended with no indictments, according to a depot news release…

A strategy for achieving Senate approval of the CTBT – John Isaacs – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Biden was an important member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1999 when the Senate last considered the treaty. He also was a key figure in winning approval of another controversial treaty–the Chemical Weapons Convention…

Chemical depot officials report mustard agent leak – KSL.com
Deadly mustard agent was detected at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele County Tuesday. A routine visual inspection of a storage igloo…

Istanbul to Host Workshop of Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – Haber TurkNet
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will hold a workshop on Universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Istanbul…

Transport CW? Part II

A few more articles and editorials appeared this weekend in the wake of USA Today’s July 2 report that the DoD plans to transport CW between facilities to speed up their destruction.

Give it up: Utah won’t accept more chemical weapons – The Salt Lake Tribune
The Pentagon just won’t give up the idea of moving chemical weapons from Colorado to Utah for destruction. Well, forget it. Since 1994, federal law has prohibited moving these weapons across state lines. There’s a good reason. Moving the stuff is …

Critics say Pentagon admits neutralization works – The Salt Lake Tribune
For years, the military has insisted that there is no safer way to destroy its chemical weapons than the incineration process used at the Deseret Chemical Depot. But when the Pentagon floated the idea of moving more chemical weapons to Utah …

Arsenal May Get More Weapons – The Pine Bluff Commercial
The Pine Bluff Arsenal has been so efficient at eliminating stockpiled chemical weapons that the facility is on a Department of Defense list for consideration to receive chemical weapons from other facilities, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., told the Pine Bluff Commercial …

Report: Weapons can’t be destroyed by 2017 – The Richmond Register
Transporting chemical weapons from the Blue Grass Army Depot to Arkansas and Alabama, as well as halting construction plans for the weapons disposal facility, are just a few among many alternatives the Department of Defense …

Pentagon Weapons Plan Criticized – NewsroomAmerica.com
The Pentagon is being criticized for a plan released to Congress detailing the acceleration of shipments of deadly chemical weapons to various military sites for destruction …

US Public Fears Weapon Transport – Prensa Latina
Department of Defense plans to transport deadly chemicals for disposal on US highways clash with Congress and NGOs that consider it too dangerous. Congress has urged …

Transport CW?

Yesterday’s report in USA Today about the Pentagon’s draft plan to transport CW to other sites for destruction has spawned a series of additional articles.

PB Arsenal to get more to destroy? – Arkansas Democrat Gazette
The Pentagon has drafted a plan to send more of its chemical weapon stockpile to the Pine Bluff Arsenal and three additional disposal sites to meet a 2017 deadline to destroy lethal …

Is Utah a pawn in Pentagon gambit?  – Salt Lake Tribune
Although Army officials acknowledge it’s a political non-starter, the Defense Department has resurrected the idea of transporting chemical weapons from Colorado and Oregon to Utah – a practice that has been widely opposed …

Officials hear chem demil plan options – The Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado officials received more information Wednesday on the options for speeding up the destruction of weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. …

Weapons Destruction Will Miss Deadline – The Pueblo Chieftain – RedOrbit.com
The Defense Department agency responsible for weapons destruction programs in Pueblo, and at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, reaffirmed to Congress this week that it is not going to finish the work by a treaty …

Chemical weapons transport plan decried – United Press International
The Pentagon is considering a plan to ship chemical weapons to U.S. military sites to speed up their destruction, a report to Congress indicated. …

Report: Consider moving chemical weapons from Kentucky – McClatchy Newspapers
Destruction of chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot won’t be complete by a government-imposed 2017 deadline unless officials consider other options, including moving chemical weapons to destruction facilities in Alabama and Arkansas …

Critics say Pentagon admits neutralization works  – Salt Lake Tribune
For years, the military has insisted that there is no safer way to destroy its chemical weapons than the incineration process used at the Deseret Chemical Depot. …

Pentagon proposal would bring more chemical weapons to Utah  – ksl.com
The U.S. Army is considering a plan to ship more chemical weapons, such as nerve agent and mustard gas, to Utah, to be destroyed here. It’s an idea watchdog groups and state regulators appear ready …

Alabama Senator Attempts to Keep Chemical Weapons Away  – WBRC – MyFox Birmingham
A Pentagon proposal to bring chemical weapons to Alabama for destruction is under fire from an Alabama Senator. …

June Issue of Chemical Disarmament Quarterly Focuses on Second Review Conference

The June issue of the OPCW publication Chemical Disarmament Quarterly is now available. Its main focus is on the Second Review Conference of the CWC which took place April 7-18 in the Hague.

This issue contains the opening statement by Director General Pfirter and the opening message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. It also includes the perspectives on the Conference and its progress by Conference Chairperson Ambassador Waleed Ben Abdel Karim El Khereiji of Saudi Arabia, Open-Ended Working Group Chair Ambassador Lyn Parker of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Eric M. Javits of the United States, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and China representatives Ambassador Oscar de los Reyes Ramos and Justo A. Quintero Mendez of Cuba and the Mission of South Africa on behalf of the Group of African States Parties. Several of the perspectives mention the difficulty in reaching agreements on the content and wording of the review conference final document. However, it was also noted that despite the painstaking process, commitment to the CWC, its fundamental principles, and the will to continue international cooperation for the future of the CWC all remained strong.

Also featured in this issue are perspectives from the NGO and industry communities. There is a short article by Daniel Feakes of the Harvard-Sussex Program and Richard Guthrie from CBW Events which in addition to their take on the RevCon, discusses the role of NGOs in the CWC. This year the RevCon was more ‘NGO-friendly’ than in the past, though more participation will be beneficial in the future. Niel Harvey who represented the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and the European Council for the Chemicals Industry (CEFIC) at the RevCon authored an article that brings up of some of the issues of the CWC/OPCW communicating with and engaging the industry community. After encouraging industry participation in the drafting of the CWC, the OPCW needs to continue to work with industry officials. Chemical production facilities are subject to OPCW inspections under the CWC and as national CW stockpiles are diminished, industry will be the focus of the CWC.

Dando Article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

This week the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article by Malcolm Dando called “Missed opportunities at the chemical weapons treaty meeting”. Dando discusses the contentious that has arisen becasue the CWC bans all chemical weapons, but exempts those used for “law enforcement, including domestic riot control purposes.”

For further discussion of incapacitating agents and the CWC check out the Bulletin’s Roundtable Forum, which I highlighted earlier this week. Also, Oliver Meier’s article in Arms Control Today talks about the “hidden debate” of incapacitating agents that took place at last months Review Conference.

Incapacitants Roundtable

I probably should have written about this earlier…

In response to Jonathan Tucker’s article “The Body’s Own Bioweapons” in the March/April issue, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is hosting a roundtable discussion on non-lethal and incapacitating agents. The participants are Jonathan Tucker, Alan Pearson, Paul Aas and Ralf Trapp and they have been contributing to the forum since early March. In many cases the discussion turns to the CWC and how these agents are and should be treated under the Convention.

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May issue of Arms Control Today

The May issue of Arms Control Today is out. It contains an excellent article by Oliver Meier called CWC Review Conference Avoids Difficult Issues”.

Oliver highlights some of the difficulties in adopting final text for the declaration. He also brings up the relatively soft emphasis on CW destruction and makes the point that this was complicated by a fundamental debate between developed and developing nations about whether the CWC should be seen as a disarmament treaty or a nonproliferation treaty. Finally Oliver discusses the “hidden debate about incapacitants”. This issue was not specifically on the agenda, nor did it show up in the final declaration; but it did receive considerable debate during the Conference.