CWC Timeline

June 17, 1925 – The Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical agents as a method of warfare is signed.

February 8, 1928 – The Geneva Protocol enters into force; the U.S. has not ratified it.

1947 – President Harry Truman withdraws the Geneva Protocol from Senate consideration.

March 15, 1962 The United States and the Soviet Union submit plans for general and complete disarmament to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee which include provisions for eliminating chemical and biological weapons.

August 15, 1968 Chemical weapons are placed on the agenda of the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) in Geneva.

June 27 – July 3, 1974 – At the Moscow Summit, the United States and the Soviet Union agree to hold bilateral talks in an effort to develop a joint proposal, to be submitted to the CCD, on the prohibition of chemical weapons.

April 10, 1975 – U.S. officially deposits its instrument of ratification of the Geneva Protocol.

March 17, 1980 – The Ad Hoc Working group on Chemical Weapons is established in the Committee on Disarmament (CD). (The CD is the successor to the CCD.)

February 4, 1983 Vice President Bush announces at the CD the following U.S. requirements for a verifiable prohibition on the production, stockpiling, and transfer of chemical weapons:

  • declaration and systematic international on-site inspection of chemical weapons stocks and production facilities and declaration of plans for destruction of stocks;
  • systematic international on-site inspection of the destruction of both chemical weapons stocks and production facilities;
  • declaration and on-site inspection of the operation of other facilities for legal production of chemicals that pose a specific risk of being diverted to chemical weapons production; and
  • a multilateral mechanism for dealing with compliance issues.

June 1983 – The United States presents a paper at the CD showing how stockpile destruction can be verified. The US approach combines extensive use of on-site instruments with continuous monitoring by international inspectors.

August 23, 1983 The United States invites CD member and observer delegations to participate in a workshop at the US chemical weapons destruction test bed facility at Tooele, Utah. The Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact (except Romania) decline the invitation.

November 14-16, 1983 Fifty diplomats from 30 CD nations attend the Chemical Weapons Verification Workshop at Tooele, Utah.

April 18, 1984 At the Conference on Disarmament (the new title for the Committee on Disarmament), Vice President Bush presents a U.S. draft treaty that provides for a worldwide ban on the development, acquisition, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. The plan calls for systematic on-site inspection of chemical weapon facilities to ensure compliance. The Soviet Union dismisses the US draft treaty immediately. However, it is essentially the 1984 draft which becomes the basis of discussion for the Ad Hoc Working Group of the CD. The document, reflecting agreed changes as a result of the CD negotiations, is informally referred to as the “rolling text.”

July 10, 1986 – The United States provides to the Conference on Disarmament information about its chemical weapons stockpiles and storage site locations — the first CD member to do so.

August 6, 1987 The Soviet Foreign Minister addresses the CD, accepting the principle of mandatory challenge inspections without the right of refusal. He invites the CD delegations to Shikany military facility and extends a future invitation to the CW destruction facility under construction near Chapayevsk. On October 3-4, 1987, a multilateral delegation from the CD visits the Soviet CW installation at Shikany to view munitions and a mobile destruction site.

July 28, 1988 In a speech to the CD, U.S. Ambassador Max Friedersdorf declares the location of all U.S. CW production facilities and outlines plans for their elimination under a CW ban. The U.S. calls on the Soviet Union and other states to do the same.

February 21-23, 1989 The United States conducts a trial inspection of a private American chemical production plant. This is part of an experiment to develop procedures for a routine inspection regime, which would satisfy confidence and security requirements without significantly disrupting the civilian chemical industry. The Soviet Union and other members of the CD subsequently conduct similar trial inspections of their own chemical industry.

February 7-9, 1990 Secretary of State Baker and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze agree on a framework for action to expedite the negotiation at the CD for a Chemical Weapons Convention.

June 1, 1990 At the Washington Summit, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev sign the US/Soviet Agreement on Destruction and Non-Production of CW and on Measures to Facilitate the Multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Key provisions of this important accord are:

  • cessation of CW production to begin upon entry into force and destruction of the vast bulk of declared stocks to start by the end of 1992; down to 5000 agent tons by 2002;
  • on-site inspections during and after the destruction process to confirm destruction; and
  • development and use of safe and environmentally sound methods of destruction.

May 13, 1991 President Bush announces a new series of steps to strengthen the prospects of an early successful conclusion of the Chemical Weapons Convention. To this end the President declared that the U.S. would take the following actions:

  • formally forswear the use of chemical weapons for any reason, including retaliation, against any state, effective when the Convention enters into force and propose that all states follow suit — providing Russia is also a Party to the Treaty;
  • unconditionally commit itself to the destruction of all our stocks of chemical weapons within ten years of entry into force and propose that all other states do likewise;
  • offer technical assistance to others so that they can destroy their chemical weapons stocks efficiently and safely;
  • call for setting a target date to conclude the Convention and recommend the Conference stay in continuous session if necessary to meet the target;
  • propose new and effective verification measures for inspecting sites suspected of producing or storing chemical weapons;
  • propose that the Convention require parties to refuse to trade in chemical weapons-related materials with states that do not join in the Convention in order to provide tangible benefits for those states that join the Convention and significant penalties for those that fail to support it; and
  • reaffirm that the U.S. will impose all appropriate sanctions in response to violations of the Convention, especially the use of chemical weapons.

July 15, 1991 – The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan jointly table a draft Challenge Inspection proposal at the CD, followed by a US proposal on handling inspection of declared facilities.

March 19, 1992 – Australian Foreign Minister Garth Evans presents a draft treaty offering compromise solutions to outstanding issues as a basis for early completion of the CD negotiations. The U.S. applauds the Australian effort and supports the process it represents. The Australian text differs from U.S. positions on a number of important issues. The US, however, expresses hope that it will aid resolution of remaining issues and permit completion of the CWC in 1992 — as President Bush has repeatedly urged.

June 22, 1992 The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical Weapons at the CD, Adolph Ritter von Wagner of Germany, in an effort to speed the process, released a draft “final text” for consideration. This draft is a complete text and embodies consensus compromises as well as the Chairman’s own proposed compromise language on unresolved major issues.

June 26, 1992 – The second CD session concluded with meetings during the last few days devoted to the Chairman’s explanations of the new text.

July 20, 1992 – The CD resumes.

July 23, 1992 – The United States accepts the Chairman’s draft Chemical Weapons Convention.

August 7, 1992 Chairman von Wagner puts forth a package of changes to the draft Convention in an effort to satisfy the concerns of some members of the CD.

August 13, 1992 President Bush announces strong United States support for the draft Chemical Weapons Convention completed at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The President states that the U.S. is committed to be an original party to the treaty once it is open for signing, and calls on all other nations to support the treaty and to pledge adherence to it.

January 12, 1993 – Signed by 130 countries in Paris.

January 13, 1993 – The United States signs the Chemical Weapons Convention. The convention requires ratification by 65 nations before it enters into force.

November 1993 – Chemical Weapons Convention submitted to the United States Senate for ratification.

April 25, 1997 – United States ratifies the CWC.

April 29, 1997 – The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) enters into force.