Chemical Weapons Convention - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chemical Weapons ConventionConvention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their DestructionDraftedSignedLocationEffectiveConditionSignatoriesPartiesDepositaryLanguages
3 September 1992[1]
13 January 1993[1]
Paris and New York[1]
29 April 1997[1]
Ratification by 65 states[2]
189 (as of June 2013)[1]Complete ListSeven UN states are not party: Angola, Burma, Egypt, Israel, North Korea, South Sudan, Syria
UN Secretary-General[3]
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish[4]

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is an independent organization based in the Hague, in the Netherlands.

The main obligation under the convention is the prohibition of use and production of chemical weapons, as well as the destruction of all chemical weapons. The destruction activities are verified by the OPCW. As of January 2013, around 78% of the (declared) stockpile of chemical weapons has thus been destroyed.[5][6] The convention also has provisions for systematic evaluation of chemical and military plants, as well as for investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties.

As of June 2013, 189 states are party to the CWC, and another two countries (Israel and Myanmar) have signed but not yet ratified the convention.[1]

Intergovernmental consideration of a chemical and biological weapons ban was initiated in 1968 within the 18-nation Disarmament Committee, which, after numerous changes of name and composition, became the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1984.[7] On 3 September 1992 the Conference on Disarmament submitted to the U.N. General Assembly its annual report, which contained the text of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The General Assembly approved the Convention on 30 November 1992, and The U.N. Secretary-General then opened the Convention for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993. The CWC remained open for signature until its entry into force on 29 April 1997, 180 days after the deposit of the 65th instrument of ratification (by Hungary). The convention augments the Geneva Protocol of 1925 for chemical weapons and includes extensive verification measures such as on-site inspections. It does not, however, cover biological weapons.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)[edit source |edit]

The convention is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which acts as the legal platform for specification of the CWC provisions (the Conference of State Parties is mandated to change the CWC, pass regulations on implementation of CWC requirements etc.). The organisations furthermore conducts inspections at military and industrial plants to ensure compliance of member states.

Key points of the Convention[edit source |edit]

Participation in the Chemical Weapons Convention

  Signed and ratified


  Signed but not ratified


Almost all countries in the world have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. Currently 189 of the 196 states recognized by the United Nations are party to the CWC.[1] Of the seven states that are not, two have signed but not yet ratified the treaty (Burma and Israel) and five states have not signed the treaty (Angola, North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan and Syria).

Key organizations of member states[edit source |edit]

Member states are represented at the OPCW by their permanent representative. This function is generally combined with the function of Ambassador. For the preparation of OPCW inspections and preparation of declarations, member states have to constitute a national authority.

World stockpile of chemical weapons[edit source |edit]

The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 30,308 tons in early 2010.[8] A total of 71,315 tonnes of agents, 8.67 million munitions and containers, and 70 production facilities were declared to OPCW before destruction activities began. In addition, several countries that are not members are suspected of having chemical weapons, especially Syria and North Korea, while some member states (including Sudan and the People's Republic of China) have been accused by others of failing to disclose their stockpiles.

Timeline of destruction[edit source |edit]

The treaty set up several steps with deadlines toward complete destruction of chemical weapons, with a procedure for requesting deadline extensions. No country reached total elimination by the original treaty date although several have finished under allowed extensions.

Reduction PhasesPhase% ReductionDeadlineNotes
I1%April 2000 
II20%April 2002Complete destruction of empty munitions, precursor chemicals,filling equipment and weapons systems
III45%April 2004 
IV100%April 2007No extensions permitted past April 2012

Progress of destruction[edit source |edit]

By May 2012, a total of 50,619 tonnes or 71.10% of declared chemical weapons (of Category 1, which is the main category) had been destroyed as well as all Category 3 declared chemicals. Category 2 remained at 52% complete. More than 45% (3.95 million) of chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed.[9] (Treaty confirmed destruction totals often lag behind state-declared totals.) Only about 50% of countries had passed the required legislation to outlaw participation in chemical weapons production.[10]

Three state parties, Albania (included 16,678 kilograms of mustard agent, lewisite, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone),[11] an unspecified state party[11] (widely believed to be South Korea)[12] and India[12] have completed the destruction of their stockpiles. Russia and the United States, which declared the largest amounts of chemical weapons are in the progress of destruction and had processed 57% and 90% of their respective stockpiles.[6][13] The deadline set for both countries of April 2012, however, was not met.[6]Libya has started destruction and has destroyed 54.46% of its stockpile (as well as 39.64% of its Category 2 chemical weapons). Iraq has yet to start destruction. Japan and China have started in October 2010 the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China by means of mobile destruction units and reported destruction of 35,203 chemical weapons (75% of the Nanjing stockpile).[13][14]

Expected complications with the Iraq stockpile[edit source |edit]

When Iraq joined the CWC in 2009, it declared "two bunkers with filled and unfilled chemical weapons munitions, some precursors, as well as five former chemical weapons production facilities" according to OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter.[12] No plans were announced at that time for the destruction of the material, although it was noted that the bunkers were damaged in the 2003 war and even inspection of the site must be carefully planned. Most of Iraq's chemical weapons were previously destroyed under a United Nations reduction program after the 1991 Gulf War. Approximately five hundred degraded chemical munitions have been found in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to a report of the US National Ground Intelligence Center.[20] These weapons contained sarin and mustard agents but were so badly corroded that they could not have been used as originally intended.[21]

Financial support for destruction[edit source |edit]

Financial support for the Albanian and Libyan stockpile destruction programmes was provided by the United States. Russia received support from a number of nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada; some $2 billion given by 2004. Costs for Albania's program were approximately 48 million U.S. dollars. The U.S. had spent $20 billion and expected to spend a further $40 billion.[22]

Known production facilities (of chemical weapons)[edit source |edit]

Thirteen countries declared chemical weapons production facilities:

As of the end of March 2012, all 70 declared facilities had been deactivated and 92% (64) have been certified as destroyed or converted to civilian use.[24] In 2009, Iraq declared five production sites which were put out of commission by damage in the 1991 and 2003 wars; OPCW inspections were still required.[12]

The convention distinguishes three classes of controlled substance,[25] chemicals which can either be used as weapons themselves or used in the manufacture of weapons. The classification is based on the quantities of the substance produced commercially for legitimate purposes. Each class is split into Part A, which are chemicals that can be used directly as weapons, and Part B which are chemicals useful in the manufacture of chemical weapons.

The treaty also deals with carbon compounds called in the treaty Discrete organic chemicals.[26] These are any carbon compounds apart from long chain polymers, oxides, sulfides and metal carbonates, such as organophosphates. The OPCW must be informed of, and can inspect, any plant producing (or expecting to produce) more than 200 tonnes per year, or 30 tonnes if the chemical contains phosphorus, sulfur or fluorine, unless the plant solely produces explosives or hydrocarbons.

Related international law[edit source |edit]

Worldwide treaties for other types of arms[edit source |edit]

Chemical weapons[edit source |edit]

Restricted substances[edit source |edit]

  1. ^ abcdefghUnited Nations Treaty Collection. Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. Accessed 14 January 2009.
  2. ^Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 21.
  3. ^Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 23.
  4. ^Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 24.
  5. ^Demilitarisation, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, accessed 29 April 2012
  6. ^ abcGlobal Campaign to Destroy Chemical Weapons Passes 60 Percent Mark. OPCW. 8 July 2010 (Accessed 19 August 2010)
  8. ^The Chemical Weapons Ban Facts and Figures, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 28 February 2010
  9. ^counters are available at the lower-right corner on the [ OCPW website]
  10. ^"The Chemical Weapons Convention at 10:An Interview With OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter",, Interviewed by Oliver Meier. Accessed 29 April 2008
  11. ^ abc"Review of the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention since the First Review Conference", Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Conference of the States Parties, Second Review Conference, 31 March 2008, available at [1]
  12. ^ abcdeIndia Completes Chemical Weapons Disposal; Iraq Declares Stockpile, Chris Schneidmiller, Global Security Newswire, 27 April 2009
  13. ^ abcd"Opening Statement by the Director-General to the Conference of the States Parties at its Sixteenth Session". OPCW. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  14. ^Executive Council 61, Decision 1. OPCW. 2010
  15. ^Albania – First Country to Destroy All of Its Chemical Weapons,, U.S. Department of State, 13 July 2007
  16. ^"Global Chemical Weapons Disarmament Operations Approach Halfway Mark", Global Security Newswire, National Journal Group, 20 February 2009
  17. ^
  18. ^ ab"Libya: Facts and Figures". Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  19. ^
  20. ^Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq : US intelligence,, 21 June 2006
  21. ^Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria,, report filed by American Forces Press Service, 29 June 2006
  22. ^"Russia, U.S. face challenge on chemical weapons", Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, 7 August 2007, accessed 7 August 2007
  23. ^"Confidentiality and verification: the IAEA and OPCW". VERTIC. May–June 2004. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  24. ^43 facilities were destroyed while 21 were converted for civilian purposes Chemical Weapons Production Facilities
  25. ^Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty: Annex on chemicals
  26. ^Chemical weapons at