OPCW Director General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter received a letter from US President Barack Obama in response to the DG’s letter congratulating the President on his electoral victory. In the letter, President Obama stated he was confident that the US and the OPCW could work closely to ‘build a more secure world.’
On February 17, Chinese H. E. Ambassador Zhang Jun addressed the General Debate of EC-55 of the OPCW. In his address he gave a positive evaluation of the OPCW’s work but also voiced concerns over chemical weapons left in China after the Japanese occupation in WWII. Ambassador Zhang, asserted that, ‘the destruction of JACWs [Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons] is even more important and urgent since they constantly constitute a real threat to the people.’
The CWC Archive now includes over 90 recently de-classified government documents. These documents can be found listed chronologically as well as in the Historical Documents sections of the CWC Archive by subject and by type. They primarily contain information regarding chemical agents and munitions as well as government projects in the chemical weapons field from 1945 – 1975.
To provide an example of the types of documents now available, we would like to highlight a June 30, 1955 report from the Chemical Corps Technical Committee as the Document of the Day.
The report discusses a number of projects including V-Agents (such as VX gas) and improvements of biological and chemical weapon test facilities. The most interesting section of the report details proposed experiments with psychochemical agents. The psychochemical agent section discusses the ‘…use of an agent causing temporary mental and/or motor incapacitation of troops or civilian populations…’ and concludes that, ‘it is desirable, but not essential, that the agents have no permanent effects.’
This document is just one of many under the Historical Document section that contain intriguing and remarkable information dating back to the 1940s.
Iran has accused Israel of using white phosphorus in their military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki urged for ‘serious and effective action’ over Israel’s use of chemical weapons in Gaza.
Iran, which has continually supported the CWC, has urged for tighter restrictions on the use of white phosphorus.
White phosphorus is an incendiary agent that is often used in combat to create smokescreens or to illuminate targets at night. It remains a contentious issue under the CWC and Geneva Convention because its use is not permitted in civilian areas.
On January 13, 2009 Iraq deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The convention will enter into force for Iraq on February 12, 2009, making them the 186th State Party to the convention. The accession of Iraq leaves only 9 states outside of the CWC; the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Myanmar are CWC signatories but have yet to ratify it. Angola, the People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic have neither signed nor ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The accession of Iraq coupled with the December 2008 accession of Lebanon mark significant progress toward the OPCW goal of CWC universality.
On January 14 the US State Department issued a press release regarding Iraq’s accession into the CWC.
With the inclusion of Lebanon in the CWC only 10 states remain outside of the Convention. The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the CWC and Angola, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic have neither signed nor ratified the CWC.