Secrecy News

US Stands By the Chemical Weapons Convention

While the Trump Administration has retreated from negotiated arms control agreements in many areas ranging from nuclear weapons to anti-personnel landmines, the US is still committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which generally prohibits the production and use of chemical weapons.

Last week the State Department certified to Congress — as a required condition of continued US participation in the CWC — that the consortium of CWC member countries known as the Australia Group “remains a viable mechanism for limiting the spread of chemical and biological weapons-related materials and technology.”

“Australia Group members continue to maintain controls over the export of toxic chemicals and their precursors, dual-use processing equipment, human, animal, and plant pathogens and toxins with potential biological weapons applications, and dual-use biological equipment…,” wrote Christopher A. Ford, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation.

“The United States remains fully committed to complete destruction of its entire [chemical weapons] stockpile, consistent with the Convention’s imperatives of public safety, environmental protection, and international transparency and oversight,” according to the State Department’s August 2019 report on Arms Control Compliance.

So far, over 90 percent of the total U.S. chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed, mostly by chemically neutralizing the weapons, but also partly through controlled detonations.

As noted in the latest annual report on the U.S. Chemical Demilitarization Program, there were 19 reported incidents of chemical weapon agents leaking in 2019, though the Army said that no public exposure resulted.

The report said that the Department of Defense “expects to complete destruction operations by December 31, 2023,” which is the deadline set by Congress.