No Chemical Weapons Use by Anyone: An Interview With OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü

Interviewed by Daniel Horner

Ahmet Üzümcü took office as director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on July 25, 2010. Immediately prior to that appointment, he served as the permanent representative of Turkey to the UN Office at Geneva. His previous career included two postings at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Üzümcü spoke with Arms Control Today by telephone on December 19 from his office in The Hague. A large part of the interview dealt with concerns over Syria’s reportedly large arsenal of chemical weapons, the prospect that those weapons would be used, and the OPCW’s responsibilities, capabilities, and constraints with regard to that situation. The interview also covered issues that are likely to receive considerable attention at the upcoming review conference for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), scheduled for April 8-19.

The interview was transcribed by Marcus Taylor. A condensed version appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of Arms Control Today.

ACT: The CWC has now been in force for 15 years. In just a few words, could you summarize the ways in which you think the CWC regime has succeeded and the ways in which the potential of the treaty has not yet been realized?

Üzümcü: The implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention over the past 15 years has been successful, especially in the field of demilitarization. The level of destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles has reached the level of 78 percent under the verification of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW. I think this is a significant achievement, which needs to be acknowledged. It has required the allocation of a lot of resources by possessor states-parties, as well as by the organization itself.

Nevertheless, the deadline—the final extended deadline of April 29, 2012—was not met. But a decision by the conference of states-parties in November 2011 enabled the possessor states to continue the destruction activities with greater transparency and reporting.[1] So I think this decision was somehow a manifestation of the culture of cooperation and dialogue that has been developed over the past 15 years.

The decision was nearly by consensus, with one exception. I think the fact that the organization was able to take its decisions by consensus over the past 15 years with a few exceptions has been a clear demonstration of the evolving global cooperation on an important security issue, the destruction of chemical weapons, as well as the prevention of re-emergence [of chemical weapons]. This also shows to a great extent the strong political will that exists on the part of the states-parties to get rid of those chemical weapons for good and to collectively prevent their re-emergence through nonproliferation activities.

That in and of itself, I believe, is a big achievement. There are other areas in which we should do more, such as Article VI inspections, verification of the chemical industry, improvements in our on-site inspections and monitoring capabilities. I think the verification mechanism can be improved by selecting the most relevant sites to be inspected and making the inspections more consistent.

There are still discrepancies on import and export data provided by states-parties, which we try to reconcile. This requires a lot of effort. The states-parties as well as the Technical Secretariat should step up their efforts in this domain so that we can ensure a more effective nonproliferation or verification mechanism with a view to preventing the diversion—the possible diversion—of chemical activities.

On the assistance and protection activities under Article X, I think we have been focusing so far on building activities at the national level with individual states-parties. For the past one or two years, we have focused more on regional activities; from now on, we are encouraging states-parties to build regional training centers for that purpose. We are also cooperating and will cooperate with the European Union in the field of their regional centers of excellence. They will cover nuclear and biological [weapons], and we will support them in the chemical field.

I believe that it is in the interest of states-parties to develop regional capacities for emergency response because they are more effective. In case of emergencies, the time is extremely important. [Regional capacities] are actually more sustainable. Small states-parties will have no capability and no resources to support and sustain these kinds of capacities even if they are developed at a certain stage. Therefore, our aim is to build these capacities but make them sustainable in the future.

Finally, on the peaceful use of chemistry, I think the states-parties have agreed that more could be done, and this is a major incentive for a large number of states-parties that have no chemical weapons, no declarable chemical industries. They are more interested in capacity development activities or the peaceful use of chemistry, and we are offering a lot in this area. I think we also will be able to increase this type of activity in the future and to meet the expectations and needs of developing countries. This will enable us to keep them engaged in implementation of the convention.

On the national implementation part, half of states-parties still have no national legislation to enforce the convention. This is a major challenge for the future of the organization. Even if those countries have nothing to declare, I think it is in the interest of the international community and the overall membership of the OPCW to ensure global implementation of the convention because they may be used as transit countries. We have to be able to control these kinds of transfers of scheduled chemicals,[2] dubious materials, also in the context of counterterrorism efforts. Therefore, we have to actually encourage them to pass the necessary legislation, and we have been working on this. Now, we are going to follow a more tailored and specifically designed approach; but of course, any national legislation should cover key points of the convention.

So these are areas [in which] we should do more on. The review conference in April will provide an opportunity for states-parties, as well as the Technical Secretariat, to focus on achievements clearly, but also on the unfinished job for the organization, the way ahead.

ACT: Thank you. You have laid out a lot of issues here, and I’m going to try to come back to many of them. But first I want to get to a very current topic, which is the situation in Syria. Syria is one of only eight countries not part of the CWC, and many governments are concerned that the Assad regime may use its sizable arsenal or that Syria’s chemical stocks may be lost or stolen.

In your December 7 statement, you said the OPCW’s responsibilities “include the prevention of the use of chemical weapons by anyone.” What responsibilities and what authorities does the OPCW have with regard to possible use of chemical weapons by states that are not parties to the convention? How is the OPCW working to prevent the use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria?

Üzümcü: First of all, the situation in Syria, the reported existence of chemical weapons, is a stark reminder to the international community of the need of universality of the convention. There are eight countries that are not yet members or parties to the convention. I think this case clearly shows that the lack of full universality would prevent full and effective implementation of the convention and the overall objective of eliminating those weapons for good and preventing their re-emergence.

In our statement dated 7 December, we wanted to point out actually that the Chemical Weapons Convention has the overall mandate. When one looks at its preamble, it says the elimination of chemical weapons universally from the world and prevention of their use. So, it doesn’t say from states-parties or excluding states [that are] not parties. We have the overall mandate to oversee or watch the global situation in this respect.

Although we may not have the mechanisms to enforce it with regard to states not party, I think this should not prevent us from commenting on the potential security risks deriving from the existence of such weapons in one part of the world or another. When we say “by anyone,” we wanted to make clear that either opposition or government forces should not use such weapons under any circumstances. That’s the purpose of it, and it is the same for nonstate actors. So this was a very general statement, in my view, expressing our principled position on this matter.

ACT: You have noted the possibility that the UN secretary-general could request the assistance of the OPCW in investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons. What capabilities and what expertise can the OPCW bring to the table when it comes to securing and destroying chemical weapons in Syria? Do you currently have the personnel, equipment, and financial resources to respond promptly to a request?

Üzümcü: In the relationship agreement between the OPCW and the United Nations, which goes back to the year 2000, and in the Verification Annex to the CWC, there are provisions that require the OPCW to put its resources at the disposal of the UN secretary-general for the conduct of an investigation of alleged use involving a state not party. The recently concluded supplementary arrangement between the two organizations provides the modalities for the implementation of these provisions. If it happens in the case of Syria, clearly the secretary-general could ask us to do it; and if the security situation permits, we would be able [to carry this out]. We have the technical expertise to do it, to send some experts to verify whether such an allegation was valid or not.

On the destruction of chemical weapons, it depends on the different scenarios, of course. But let’s say that if we were actually asked by the Syrian government, if the Syrian government decided to join the convention, we would be able to provide some expertise. This doesn’t mean that we would actually be able to go and destroy those weapons; we don’t have the technical means in place. The destruction of chemical weapons is quite a complex operation. Billions of dollars have been spent in the past by possessor states. This would require some equipment to be put in place. But primarily, the situation has to improve, and I don’t think we can operate in a conflict zone. We depend on the UN safety and security regulations, and we should have a green light from them. The priority at the present should be to secure those weapons in order to prevent any access or use.

ACT: So if there was an allegation of use by Syria, you would be able to investigate in the countries allegedly attacked, but you would not be able to go into Syria regardless of whatever authority you have through the convention or the UN secretary-general? Or would you be able to somehow get additional authority to go into Syria? Is there a way to do that?

Üzümcü: Actually, the wording of the convention is that the UN secretary-general could request the investigation of alleged use involving a state not party, and whether we are able to go into Syria or not would totally depend on the political situation as well as the actual situation on the ground. Therefore, I cannot predict how it would unfold and whether we would be able to practically operate on the territory of Syria. So it is actually unpredictable, I would say.

ACT: What preparations are you making for eventual Syrian accession to the CWC and for OPCW on-site inspections in Syria, perhaps even before formal accession? For example, have you had any contact with the Syrian opposition, the Assad government, or other Syrian organizations?

Üzümcü: We haven’t had any contact with the Syrian opposition and, other than the letters that we sent to and received from the Syrian foreign minister, we haven’t had any contact [with the Syrian government]. Having said that, I think the Technical Secretariat has the capacity to conduct technical assistance visits or inspections once there would be legal grounds for that, either through accession or by decisions to be made by the policymaking organs of the Technical Secretariat and if the situation on the ground also permits.

Our experts are fully capable of identifying the chemical weapons and providing advice on the security, how they should be secured and so on, also what kind of methods should be applied for their eventual destruction. So in terms of technical capabilities, I think we can provide some advice and expertise, but clearly the protection and security of chemical weapons is a national responsibility for states-parties that are possessor states. The method for destruction is a national sovereign decision as well. There are some methods that are prohibited, such as dumping in the sea or burying them and so on; but apart from that, it’s a national decision to choose the destruction methods.

ACT: You mentioned your correspondence with the Syrian foreign minister. I’ve seen your letter to him. Is his letter to you public? Is it available on your website?

Üzümcü: Actually, we didn’t make public the response letter; but basically it says that Syria will not use chemical weapons, if it has any, under any circumstances. It also says one should focus on the potential use of such weapons by the opposition groups and has allegations about other states in the region and elsewhere.

ACT: Okay. I wanted to move on to some of the questions dealing with the review conference and the regime as a whole. In his statement to the recent OPCW conference of states-parties, U.S. Ambassador Robert Mikulak [the U.S. permanent representative to the OPCW] said about the upcoming review conference, “Contrary to past experience, we should not be satisfied with an agreed document that no one will look at again until the next Review Conference in five years.”

What are you, Ambassador Nassima Baghli [who chairs the open-ended working group that is preparing for the 2013 review conference and drafting the final document], and the states-parties doing to produce a more relevant final document and a successful review conference?

Üzümcü: I know that Ambassador Baghli is working on a draft document to be submitted for the consideration of states-parties at the open-ended working group. It is not yet available, but her objective is to present a concise and to-the-point draft text reflecting the views of different countries. I hope that the conference will ultimately produce some practical results because that is important.

As I said earlier, this review conference is particularly important because it’s going to be held at a critical juncture for the organization, and therefore it has to give some guidance for future orientation to both the Technical Secretariat and the states-parties. Therefore, I hope that this will be something substantive, and, as I said, a clear guidance.

ACT: To give an example—when you talk about how it will be practical and be substantive, in what areas do you think it will actually lay out some new policy or give some specific charge to the states-parties and the Technical Secretariat?

Üzümcü: I mentioned earlier that 78 percent of the weapons stocks were destroyed, and until the destruction is complete, it will remain a priority to the OPCW. We expect that close to 99 percent of those weapons will be destroyed by the time of the following review conference in 2018. Therefore, I believe that, for the next five years following the April conference, there will be a transitional period during which we should use the opportunity to adapt the organization.

This means the adaptation of the Technical Secretariat, but also the other organs. For instance, there is the discussion about the improvement of the Executive Council proceedings, methodologies, and so on, which I hope will be done in the coming months. But the adaptation pertains to the Technical Secretariat structure, too.

In terms of deliverables, I think we should go beyond the verification of destruction. I mentioned earlier the improvement of the verification mechanism under Article VI of the convention. There are other areas, for instance, chemical safety and security. On chemical safety and security, this organization has been conducting some new activities over the past three years; and this is an area where we can deepen our activities in collaboration with fellow institutions, such as the chemical industry, chemical industry associations, as well as others.

Another area is to improve our capacity-building activities. In the advisory panel report prepared by the panel chair, Rolf Ekéus, one and a half years ago, there is a mention of the future of the organization [and its potential role as] a repository of knowledge and expertise in the field of chemical weapons. Now I think that is a quite good determination because I don’t think any other organization—many states-parties will not be able to maintain such expertise because it will not be a priority anymore.

Nevertheless, there still will be risks of the use of toxic chemicals by nonstate actors or the discovery of old and abandoned chemical weapons. [Also there are] some countries that are not members at the moment but may become members and posses chemical weapons. Such expertise will be required in the future, and this is the only organization that can do it. Therefore, I think the Technical Secretariat should be able to maintain such expertise in the future.

There are challenges. We have a tenure policy that limits the term of the staff members, and I don’t know whether the states-parties will consider to remove it, but this is one of the challenges. Then we will have to develop, I believe, some kind of training capacity by the organization. There are some projects that we have in mind and we want to submit to the consideration of states-parties during this transitional phase, showing that we are prepared to meet the challenges in the future once the destruction will be complete, hopefully by 2017, 2018—or nearly complete, I should say.

ACT: Now let’s go to some specific issues. You alluded earlier to the question of the April 29, 2012, deadline and the fact that Russia and the United States did not meet that deadline. As you said, the 2011 decision did not declare those countries to be in violation of the treaty, but requires them to regularly submit detailed plans for their ongoing destruction activities and imposes reporting, transparency, and monitoring requirements for the ongoing destruction work. So, are those requirements being fully implemented?

Üzümcü: Yes, they are. The decision taken at the [2011 conference of states-parties] is being implemented. By this decision, the possessor states-parties are expected to complete the destruction in the shortest time possible without setting a new deadline. So they submitted their destruction plans, which were approved by the policymaking organs of the organization, and they in fact are complying with the reporting requirements and other obligations. I, as the director-general, have been tasked to report regularly to the Executive Council meetings, as well as the conference of states-parties, and to provide my own evaluation of the progress made and whether the states-parties concerned have made necessary efforts to accelerate the destruction process or not. So this process is very much under way.

ACT: In your view, has the issue of the 2012 deadline been settled, or will it be a contentious issue at the upcoming review conference and beyond?

Üzümcü: Actually, I think, from a legal perspective, it is settled. But I believe that the states-parties will observe the situation, the progress, and will continue to urge the states-parties concerned, the possessor states, to try to accelerate the destruction process, because from their point of view, some genuine efforts should be seen by them and demonstrated by the possessor states. The decision itself clearly states what efforts should be made.

I know that the United States is making some efforts to accelerate the process, as well as the Russian Federation. There are technical challenges and other difficulties, but their responsibility, in my view, is to demonstrate they are making those efforts.

ACT: The third state-party that did not meet the April 2012 deadline was Libya. What is happening now to get Libya’s stockpile destruction program restarted, and when might OPCW inspectors return to Libya?

Üzümcü: Our inspectors have been to Libya three times since the crisis there was over, and they were able to inspect the storage site, and they were able to inspect the newly found, the previously undeclared weapons. And I’ve been to Tripoli myself. We expect the Libyans to resume the destruction of the bulk sulfur mustard—half of which was destroyed earlier, before the crisis erupted [in early 2011]—some time early [in 2013] and under the verification of the OPCW inspectors. The equipment is functioning, and the issue is how to ensure the security of our inspectors and that the accommodation premises will be ready. They are being prepared for that. I think this is feasible and [the destruction of the bulk sulfur mustard] could be completed in a space of two months maximum.

I was talking about the bulk of sulfur mustard in large containers. As to the newly found weapons that consist of artillery shells and a few aerial bombs filled with sulfur mustard, it will take a little longer because they will need some new equipment to destroy them and explode them in a detonation chamber, which they need to procure with the support of some states-parties as well as the Technical Secretariat. It may take a little more than a year to deploy it and to start destruction, but what I should stress is that the Libyan authorities are very cooperative, very transparent, and willing to go ahead with the elimination of those weapons.

ACT: So the inspectors have been just to check the declarations, but they will actually be on the ground on a permanent basis early [in 2013] so that this can resume. Is that correct?

Üzümcü: Yes, the destruction of bulk sulfur mustard could resume because, as I said earlier, the equipment that was broken in February 2011 is now repaired and functional. Provided that we have the necessary security measures in place and the UN has given a green light for our inspectors to travel to this part of Libya, I think that the destruction could resume anytime soon. The inspectors will have to verify the destruction during the whole process.

ACT: Okay, let’s go back to an issue that you had mentioned before about industry verification and related issues and the question of the future of the OPCW. You said that the focus of the OPCW will have to shift from destruction to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons. How can the current industry verification regime be adapted so that it can meet this challenge? In particular, what has been achieved so far in increasing the OPCW’s ability to monitor the so-called other chemical production facilities, and what more needs to be done?

Üzümcü: I think the overall balance, which was struck during the negotiations of the convention, will be upset not due to the failure of the implementation, but rather due to its success, in the coming years. The initial balance was between the elimination of chemical weapons and the industrial verification on the one hand and the rest of the activities emanating from the convention on the other. Now, since the destruction activities will be completed, let’s say in a few years’ time, then there will be a need to strike a new balance.

And the new balance, I believe, can be actually achieved between the verification, under Article VI mainly, which would aim at preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons on the one hand, and the rest of activities on the other. Therefore, this will give us an opportunity to reinforce this verification mechanism. I don’t think the numbers and caps for each state-party could be changed. There is a cap of 20 inspections per year for other chemical production facilities, or Schedule 3 facilities, and this cap will be in place. On the other hand, we could improve the efficiency or effectiveness of those inspections, the selection methodology, and their conduct and also improve the declaration system. We have made some progress in this respect on declarations—more accurate, more timely declarations, as well as on the evaluations so far.

But I think we should do more [not only] by educating and training the states-parties about doing this declaration in a more proper, more accurate way, but also in our own capacity to evaluate them. So I think there is still work to be done in order to improve this verification mechanism in collaboration with the chemical industry. The chemical industry is our main partner in this domain, and they are willing to cooperate further with us. The [Ekéus] advisory panel report recommended that we should establish a joint working group with the chemical industry. We are working on that and, following the review conference, we want to somehow informally, but still by establishing a mechanism, have a permanent, regular dialogue and cooperation with the chemical industry on this and other relevant issues.

Another related issue is scientific and technological development. There are several new discoveries and inventions, which may have some implications for the verification mechanism of the convention. And we have a Scientific Advisory Board, and they have been working on the convergence between biology and chemistry for some time, on sampling analysis and other issues. So that is an area that needs to be taken into account by states-parties. And the Scientific Advisory Board provided its input to the review conference very recently, as well as [the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry], which jointly organized with the OPCW a workshop providing its own inputs into the process. I think it is on their website as well as ours. So the technological scientific development system is something that we should clearly bear in mind.

Another area in which we were not that active is education and outreach. We have realized that we cannot achieve the goals of the convention only through verification mechanisms and prevention, or nonproliferation, activities. We need to raise awareness among the relevant communities, the scientific communities as well as the relevant educational institutions. So we are in the process of collaborating with some partners to produce some educational materials, e-learning modules, so that we can reach out to universities, even high schools. Soon we will invite some chemistry teachers from high schools so that we can inform them about the goals of the convention and disseminate the necessary information to raise awareness and also to raise awareness among the chemical industry as well as the scientific community about the risks, which might be associated with handling the dual-use chemical material.

ACT: The primary goal of the CWC has been a “world free of chemical weapons.” What is the OPCW doing to bring in the remaining eight countries [Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria] into the treaty regime to reach this goal of universality that you mentioned earlier

Üzümcü: Universality, I think, is one of the key objectives of the OPCW. It has been so for many years. I think having a membership of 188 countries is a big achievement, but it is not enough; and as I said, Syria is a reminder of that. Recently, the UN secretary-general and I have written letters to the heads of state and government of those eight countries that are outside of the realm of the convention.

We have been approaching those countries for several years. It is likely that three countries—Angola, South Sudan, and Myanmar—may join the convention some time during 2013, hopefully. We have been sending some delegations to Myanmar; the second one will go in early February. We have proposed similar assistance to South Sudan, which is a new independent state, and to Angola. We see that there shouldn’t be any problem for them to join the convention. So we understand that it has not been a matter of priority so far, but they have shown some interest, and we encourage them to do it as early as possible.

As for the remaining three countries in the Middle East, including Syria, we were hopeful that this WMD [weapons of mass destruction]-free-zone conference would be held before the end of [2012]. Now it is postponed.[3] We know that it is going to be the beginning of a process, and we hope that this process will pave the way for universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Our position has been that CWC membership should not be linked to any other processes and it should be addressed on its own merits. We think that the possession of chemical weapons should be repudiated by any country, irrespective of any other process. We know that the countries in the Middle East relate this issue to regional security concerns, as well as the nuclear issue, and we hope that the hurdles will be removed during the process of [establishing] a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

ACT: What about the other noninspected geographic areas, such as Taiwan and the Palestinian territories? What is the situation there?

Üzümcü: Taiwan and the Palestinian territories are noninspected, yes. Actually, the Taiwanese issue is more complex, and the policy of the OPCW was not to recognize Taiwan as an independent state. As agreed, we follow UN practices of “one China” in this regard. We think opportunities should be explored to achieve greater transparency in this respect, but I don’t know yet how. As for Palestine, I don’t know whether the recent voting in the [UN] General Assembly [making the Palestinian Authority a nonmember observer state] will have an impact or not. This is something that we are not able to actually express any view at this stage.

ACT: One of the issues on which there was no progress at the last review conference was how to treat the development of new types of incapacitating chemical agents. Several states-parties were urging a more focused and structured review of whether nonlethal agents of warfare are covered by the CWC’s general-purpose criterion. Do you expect that issue to come up at the review conference, and what kind of decision could the review conference make to clarify possible ambiguities on the scope of the convention?

Üzümcü: This issue had been discussed in the previous review conferences, but without any conclusion; and in the preparations of the upcoming conference, there have been some activities, especially at the open-ended working [group] level. [There were] also some side events during the conference of states-parties in November. One state-party, Switzerland, has organized a side event on incapacitating agents, as well as the [International Committee of the Red Cross]. Some think tanks are raising this issue. I cannot predict how it’s going to unfold, but clearly this issue will be discussed. I don’t know whether there will be a decision on this or not. As the Technical Secretariat, we of course will follow a neutral line. I think some parties wish to ensure transparency with regard to [incapacitating chemical agents]. We will see how the positions develop by that time.

ACT: Okay, one more and then we can wrap up. When you were a candidate for director-general, you emphasized the importance of transparency, outreach, and involvement of civil society. What have you done to strengthen this area, and what challenges remain? You mentioned earlier the scientific and educational outreach, but maybe you could say a little bit more about transparency and interactions with civil society and so on.

Üzümcü: On transparency, what I have emphasized was strengthening the public diplomacy because of the need to publicize further the achievements of the organization, which clearly has been a good example of effective multilateralism. We should publicize further this success story so that we can raise the confidence of our publics in the multilateral diplomacy and the international organizations that have been dealing with security issues for years now. So this sets a good example and could be emulated by other processes. So this was the purpose of my point, and we undertook some initiatives in this regard. We have improved our website, and I think now those who are interested are able to have access to a greater part of our documents through our website. We also are improving the search mechanism and so on so that the retrieval of documents can be better. And we organized some meetings with think tank representatives last June. We collected their views, and we are in the process of implementing some practical measures to facilitate their contacts with the organization.

We have been in touch with several scientific communities. I mentioned also the chemical industry, and we are in the process of producing e-learning modules, which are going to be usable soon; some of them already are complete. Depending on the resources that could be available to us, we will do more. We have organized a series of 15th anniversary meetings, including one in New York on the margins of the General Assembly in October. We encourage states-parties to come and pay visits to our organization, and they are doing it more and more.

I believe also unfortunately, due to the situation in Syria, that the OPCW has attracted some interest also. But what we want to do irrespective of what happens in Syria is really to try to reach out more to younger generations. We are also using the social media networks, so we are on Facebook and others. We will try to do more to try to be better known.

ACT: Okay, do you have any final comments you would like to make or touch on anything that I did not ask you about?

Üzümcü: The OPCW Technical Secretariat is a rather small organization, composed of less than 500 people coming from 80-plus nations. But this is a good group of colleagues, staff who are very professional and have loyally served this organization for years. I think their commitment, dedication should be acknowledged, and I believe they will continue to do an excellent job in the future. As director-general, I’m committed also to working with them and to assuring a smooth transition for the organization in the coming years. The support of all states-parties will be crucial for the success of this process.

ACT: Thank you very much.




[1] See Daniel Horner, “Accord Reached on CWC’s 2012 Deadline,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2012.

[2] The CWC requires states-parties to declare chemical industry facilities that produce or use chemicals of concern to the convention. These chemicals are grouped into “schedules” based on the risk they pose of violating the convention’s conditions. Schedule 1 chemicals and precursors pose a “high risk” and are rarely used for peaceful purposes. States-parties may not retain these chemicals except in small quantities for research, medical, pharmaceutical, or defensive use. Many Schedule 1 chemicals have been stockpiled as chemical weapons. Schedule 2 chemicals are toxic chemicals that pose a “significant risk” and are precursors to the production of Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 chemicals. These chemicals are not produced in large quantities for commercial or other peaceful purposes. Schedule 3 chemicals are usually produced in large quantities for purposes not prohibited by the CWC, but still pose a risk to the convention. Some of these chemicals have been stockpiled as chemical weapons.

[3] At the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, the parties to that treaty agreed to hold a conference in 2012 on establishing a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The conference had been tentatively scheduled to take place in December in Helsinki, but the key countries involved in organizing the meeting announced in November that the meeting was being postponed. They did not set a new date. See Kelsey Davenport and Daniel Horner, “Meeting on Middle East WMD Postponed,Arms Control Today, December 2012.