USIS Washington 

17 September 1998


(Convention needs to be a living document) (2110)

(The following factsheet was issued by the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency on September 9, 1998.)


The multilateral negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
concluded in Geneva on September 3, 1992, with the Conference on
Disarmament (CD) forwarding the draft text to the UN for endorsement.
On November 30, 1992, the UN General Assembly endorsed the CWC by
consensus, with 145 countries cosponsoring the supporting resolution.
The CWC opened for signature in Paris on January 13, 1993, where 130
countries signed the Convention. On October 31, 1996, Hungary became
the 65th nation to ratify the CWC, thus triggering a 180-day period
after which the CWC entered into force, April 29, 1997. The CWC is
historic in the scope of its provisions and in the number of countries
involved in its development. Additionally, the Conference of States
Parties established by the Convention will provide members an
opportunity to build regional and global stability and to play a more
responsible role in the international community.


This paper describes some of the CWC's key provisions, which were
designed to balance the need for effective Convention provisions with
the national security and economic requirements of States Parties in
implementing such provisions.

The Destruction of CW and CW Production Facilities

Throughout the CWC negotiations, CD participants sought ways to remove
the possibility of use or threat of use of CW through measures which
would provide confidence among States Parties adhering to the
Convention that their security would be enhanced. To this end, the
negotiators desired to ensure the complete elimination of CW and their
production facilities within a specific period of time; to assign
responsibility for destruction of CW stocks abandoned on a State
Party's territory; to prohibit any right of CW retaliation; to
prohibit the use of herbicides and riot control agents (RCA) as a
method of warfare; and, in the event of CW use or threat of use, to
provide for protection and assistance to the victimized party.

At the same time, negotiators had to take into account such factors as
the technical difficulties associated with destruction of CW, the
possible need for commercial use of former CW production facilities,
and the non-warfare uses of herbicides and RCA, (e.g. crop control,
law enforcement). This required negotiators to develop provisions
which balance a State Party's obligations under the Convention for
declarations, destruction timing, international monitoring, etc., with
the needs and requirements of States Parties in implementing these

Thus, the CWC contains provisions which prohibit: the development,
production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, direct or indirect
transfer to anyone of CW; the use of CW against anyone; engaging in
any military preparations to use CW; and assisting, encouraging in, or
inducing anyone to engage in activities prohibited to States Parties.

The Convention requires all CW to be declared, declarations to be
checked, and all CW to be completely eliminated within 10 years, with
storage and destruction monitored through on-site inspection. An
extension of a State Party's destruction program for up to five years
is possible, but not automatic. It must be approved by the Conference
of States Parties which will set conditions under which the extension
may be granted, including specific verification measures and actions
to mitigate the delay. The CWC requires a State Party to destroy and
bear the costs of destruction of CW it abandoned on another State
Party's territory; otherwise, the territorial State Party may request
assistance from the CWC organization.

The CWC further requires all CW production to cease, CW production
facilities to be declared, the declarations to be checked, and the
facilities destroyed, with cessation of production and destruction
monitored through on-site inspection. In exceptional cases of
compelling need, the Conference of States Parties may approve
conversion of former CW production facilities for prescribed non-CW
uses, subject to appropriate international monitoring.

Finally, the Convention contains provisions which prohibit the use of
RCAs as a method of warfare, reaffirms the prohibition on use of
herbicides as a method of warfare, and provides for protection and
assistance in the event of use or threat of use of CW against a State

Monitoring the Chemical Industry

In the Convention, chemicals of concern have been divided into three
schedules according to the risk that they pose to the objectives of
the CWC. Facilities producing, processing, and consuming these
chemicals are subject to initial and annual declaration and
international monitoring, including on-site inspection. In addition to
these facilities, other facilities capable of producing the scheduled
chemicals, but not doing so, are also subject to declaration and a
monitoring regime.

At the same time, the provisions for monitoring chemical industry take
into account countries' concerns about the difficulties of national
implementation of the CWC such as the possible impact of the
provisions on economic and technological development, the possible
loss of confidential business information, and the difficulty of
monitoring small chemical industry facilities in developing countries.
Measures are included which provide inspection procedures and methods
for handling information which protect sensitive, non-CW related
information; require that the Convention be implemented in a manner
which avoids hampering economic or technological development; and
require States Parties to facilitate the fullest possible exchange of
chemicals, equipment and scientific and technical information for
permitted purposes.

The Convention also contains provisions to allay the fears of some
developing countries about the difficulty of identifying and opening
to monitoring chemical industries capable of producing scheduled
chemicals but not now doing so. In particular, there is a provision
for assistance in compiling lists of such facilities and means to
address any problems of completeness of such lists. Thresholds for
declarations and inspection have been set high enough to preclude
capturing small, irrelevant chemical industries. Finally, the
inspection regime for this sector of the chemical industry will not
start, at the earliest, until the fourth year after entry into force
of the CWC. Moreover, the implementation of this category of
inspections will be subject to further discussion and decisionmaking
by the Conference of States Parties and will take into account the
accrued experience of other industry inspections.


The CWC contains two verification regimes to enhance the security of
States Parties to the Convention and to preclude the possibility of
clandestine CW production, storage and use. The first provides a
routine monitoring regime involving declarations, initial visits and
systematic inspections of CW storage, production and destruction
facilities and relevant chemical industry. The second regime,
challenge inspection, allows a State Party to request and have
conducted an international inspection of any facility or location in
another State Party in order to clarify and resolve questions of
possible noncompliance.

The challenge inspection procedures were the most sensitive and
difficult to develop, given the need to balance provision for an
adequate degree of intrusiveness to address compliance concerns with
the need to protect sensitive, non-CW-related commercial or national
security information. The CWC obligates the State Party to be
inspected to accept a challenge inspection and to make every
reasonable effort to satisfy the compliance concern. At the same time,
the CWC provides for a system of managing access to a challenged site
which allows for protection of the inspected party's national security
concerns. It does so in two ways: first, through procedures to deter
the challenging party from abusing the process and, second, through
procedures which allow the inspected party to protect sensitive,
non-CW-related information.

The inspected Party has final say in determining the extent and nature
of access within the challenged site. The Party will negotiate with
the inspection team the following: the extent of access to any
particular place or places within the inspection site, the particular
inspection activities including sampling, the performance of
particular activities by the inspection team and the provision of
particular information by the inspected Party.

Deterrence of Abuse

To deter abuse, the Convention contains provisions for both the
requesting and the inspected Parties to have their concerns about
compliance and possible abuse of the system addressed by the Executive
Council at both the beginning and the conclusion of a challenge
inspection. A State Party must submit a request for challenge
inspection to the Executive Council as well as to the Director General
of the Technical Secretariat of the CWC Organization. If the Executive
Council considers an inspection request to be frivolous, abusive or
clearly beyond the scope of the Convention, it may, within 12 hours
after having received the request decide by a three-quarter majority
of all its members against carrying out the challenge inspection.

After a challenge inspection, the Executive Council will review the
final report of the inspection team. In addition to addressing
concerns about whether any noncompliance occurred, the Council will
also address concerns as to whether the request had been within the
scope of the Convention as well as whether the right to request a
challenge inspection had been abused. If the Executive Council
concludes there was abuse, it may recommend to the Conference of
States Parties measures to take against the requesting party and
examine whether that party should bear any of the costs of the

In addition to specific provisions to address abuse, there is a
general provision giving States Parties the right at any time to
request the Executive Council to consider concerns about abuse of the
rights provided for under the Convention.

Protection Through Inspection Procedures

The Convention also contains inspection procedures which provide the
inspected party with the means to protect sensitive sites. Such means
include: the timing specified to provide access; limitations on
observers; and the process of managed access at the site.

With respect to timing for inspection, after receiving notification of
the site to be inspected, the inspected Party has the ability to take
up to five days to provide access to the site. This time period allows
inspected Parties adequate time to prepare a site for inspection. Once
at the site, the period of inspection itself is limited to 84 hours,
extendable only by agreement with the inspected Party.

Concerning limitations on observers, while the requesting Party can
ask to have an observer accompany the inspection team, the inspected
Party has the right to disapprove the participation of such an
observer. If the inspected Party allows the participation of an
observer, it can limit the access and activities of the observer at
the site.

Finally, and most importantly, the inspected Party has final say in
determining the extent and nature of access within the challenged
site. The Party will negotiate with the inspection team the following:
the extent of access to any particular place or places within the
inspection site, the particular inspection activities (including
sampling) to be conducted by the inspection team, the performance of
particular activities by the inspection team and the provision of
particular information by the inspected Party. For example, the Party
may give only individual inspectors access to certain parts of the
inspection site; it may shroud sensitive pieces of equipment such as
computer electronic systems; and it may restrict sampling and sampling
analysis. In the event the inspected Party provides less than full
access to places, activities or information, it is obligated to make
every reasonable effort to provide alternative means to clarify the
possible non-compliance concern that generated the challenge

Organization and Costs

Two other issues of importance and concern which arose during
negotiations of the CWC were the allocation of costs for implementing
the Convention and equitable participation in its organizational
bodies, in particular, the Executive Council since it plays a large
role in CWC implementation. Provisions of the Convention address these
concerns by allocating costs on an adjusted UN scale, to lessen the
burden on small and developing countries, with the most expensive
costs -- verification of destruction -- to be borne almost entirely by
the countries possessing CW. Another provision establishes the
principle of rotational seats on the Executive Council and seat
allocation on a regional basis, leaving it up to each region to
designate members, taking into account not only a State's industrial
significance but also other regional factors. Yet another provision
provides for staffing the Technical Secretariat, drawing from States
Parties in a manner which gives due regard to recruiting on as wide a
geographical basis as possible.

Provisions for Improving the Convention

Finally, the negotiators recognized the need for making the Convention
a living document which will allow for the possibility of improvement
based on inspection experience and advances in verification
technology. Therefore, the CWC contains provisions to allow for
technical changes and annual and special conferences to discuss
implementation and address any particular problems.