OPCW Awaiting Data, Making Inspections

Four months after entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), implementation is proceeding apace, with over 60 "routine" inspections (17 in the United States) carried out so far. But issues remain to be addressed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the treaty's implementing body, including the failure of one third of CWC states parties to submit the required data declarations which were due May 29.

Of the CWC's 167 signatories, 98 have ratified the treaty that bans the stockpiling, development, transfer, acquisition and use of chemical weapons and contains provisions for destruction of weapon stockpiles and production facilities. The OPCW's Executive Council, the body overseeing implementation of the CWC, will hold its fourth meeting September 1 4. The council has yet to decide how to deal with the outstanding data declarations, which should detail current and past chemical weapons programs or confirm non possession. An OPCW spokesperson said, the determination whether OPCW will release specific details on data declarations has not been made. So far only the United States and India have admitted to having possessed chemical weapon stockpiles. To date, no state party has requested a challenge inspection, but the OPCW plans to conduct over 100 routine inspections by the end of 1997.