Global Green USA congratulated the Republic of Korea (South Korea) for becoming the second country to complete the destruction of its declared chemical weapons stockpile, representing a step forward in global elimination of chemical weapons.
Dr. Paul Walker, Director of Global Green USA’s Security and Sustainability Programme, commended South Korea for the destruction of several thousand tons of deadly nerve agents as this “marks a major historic initiative in global abolition of chemical weapons, in implementation of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, and in demilitarizing the Korean Peninsula. South Korea deserves our sincere congratulations in destroying its entire chemical weapons arsenal and making the Korean Peninsula a more stable and peaceful region.” Global Green’s Security and Sustainability Programme seeks to facilitate the safe and timely elimination of weapons stockpiles and related systems globally as well as promotes international nonproliferation efforts.
Six countries – Albania, India, Libya, Russia, South Korea, and the United States – have declared chemical weapons stockpiles under auspices of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Albania became the first country to eliminate its 16-ton stockpile of mustard agent in 2007. South Korea is the second country to achieve total elimination of its 3,126 metric tons (estimated by GGUSA) stockpile. India will complete its destruction program of some 1,000 tons in the coming year, and Libya will destroy its arsenal of 23 tons over the coming two years. Russia and the United States are the largest possessor states, having declared 40,000 and 31,500 tons of chemical weapons respectively. Russia, which has been destroying its deadly arsenal since 2002, has neutralized about 12,000 tons (30%) to date. The United States, which began unilaterally destroying its arsenal in 1990, has burned and neutralized over 17,000 tons (55%) to date.
South Korea is referred to officially at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing and inspection agency for the CWC in The Hague, as “the other State Party” due to its request for full confidentiality under the Convention. “This is such a major positive disarmament, nonproliferation, and confidence-building accomplishment by South Korea today, I hope that it will publicly acknowledge its success and encourage North Korea, which has not yet joined the international treaty regime, to follow suit,” Walker emphasized. “Perhaps the accession of North Korea to the CWC could now be included in the Six-Party Talks as a follow up to South Korea’s elimination of chemical weapons and as an important confidence-building measure for establishing a Korean Peninsula zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.” Eleven United Nations-recognized countries have yet to fully join the CWC, including at least four countries – Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and Syria – which some observers allege may be possessor states; 184 countries are members of the CWC which entered into force in 1997.
The US Ambassador to the OPCW, Eric Javits, underlined likewise in his statement to the OPCW Executive Council this week that “since our last meeting, quietly and without the public recognition it rightly deserves, A State Party completed the destruction of its entire chemical weapons stockpile becoming the second State Party to do so, and before its deadline. We extend our warmest congratulations and deep appreciation for a job well done. With this accomplishment, we were brought one step closer to achieving a world without chemical weapons.”