The Russian Federation, the largest declared chemical weapons (CW) possessor state with 40,000 metric tons of deadly chemicals in seven large stockpiles, has indicated that it will not be able to meet the legally binding destruction deadline – April 29, 2012 – under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The announcement was made today by Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in The Hague at the opening of the 61st OPCW Executive Council meeting. The OPCW is the multinational organization with 188 States Parties, which oversees the inspection and verification of chemical weapons demilitarization and the nonproliferation of banned chemical agents globally.
Dr. Paul F. Walker, Director of the Security and Sustainability Programme at Global Green USA, who has worked with both US and Russian authorities and the OPCW for the last fifteen years to help facilitate safe and sound elimination of chemical weapon arsenals, commented: “This step by Russian authorities is a very positive one towards a more realistic schedule of destruction for the large Russian chemical weapons arsenal. By extending the planning schedule from 2012 to 2015, Russia is recognizing that it’s more important to meet safety and security requirements rather than deadlines. We welcome this new announcement and congratulate Russia at the same time for already completing the safe elimination of almost 50% – 20,000 tons – of their deadly chemical weapons.”
Ambassador Pfirter stated: “…given the excellent track record and firm commitment to the implementation of the Convention consistently shown by the Russian Federation and by the United States of America, the key goal of achieving the total and irreversible destruction of their declared stockpiles is, in my view, not in question. Indeed, both these countries have consistently shown their resolve to abide by their commitments under the Convention and I for one have no doubt that they will continue to stay on track.”
The US, the other major CW possessor state with some 28,600 metric tons of chemical weapons in nine stockpiles, has already eliminated 74% of its arsenals but will not finish until about 2021, also thereby missing the CWC 2012 deadline. Three other declared possessor states – Albania, India, and South Korea – finished their stockpile destruction between 2007 and 2009, while two more countries – Iraq and Libya – continue to plan their CW destruction programs.