Chemical Weapons Convention: Wikis


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Chemical Weapons Convention
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction
Drafted September 3, 1992[1]
January 13, 1993[1]
Paris and New York[1]
April 29, 1997[1]
Ratification by 65 states[2]
Signatories 165[1]
Parties 188 (as of May 2009)[1]
Complete List
Depositary UN Secretary-General[3]
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish[4]
     State parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention     State parties which have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons and/or are known to have chemical weapons production facilities

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 current agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is an independent organization and often mistaken as being a department within the United Nations.

As of May 2009, 188 states are party to the CWC,[1] and another two countries 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.[2] On September 3, 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 full title of which is "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction." The General Assembly approved the Convention on November 30, 1992, and The U.N. Secretary-General then opened the Convention for signature in Paris on January 13, 1993. The CWC remained open for signature until its entry into force on April 29, 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. The convention is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which conducts inspection of military and industrial plants in all of the member nations as well as working with stockpile countries.

Controlled substances

The convention distinguishes three classes of controlled substance,[5] 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.

  • Schedule 1 chemicals have few, or no uses outside of chemical weapons. These may be produced or used for research, medical, pharmaceutical or chemical weapon defence testing purposes but production above 100 grams per year must be declared to the OPCW. A country is limited to possessing a maximum of 1 tonne of these materials. Examples are mustard and nerve agents, and substances which are solely used as precursor chemicals in their manufacture. A few of these chemicals have very small scale non-military applications, for example minute quantities of nitrogen mustard are used to treat certain cancers.
  • Schedule 2 chemicals have legitimate small-scale applications. Manufacture must be declared and there are restrictions on export to countries which are not CWC signatories. An example is thiodiglycol which can be used in the manufacture of mustard agents, but is also used as a solvent in inks.
  • Schedule 3 chemicals have large-scale uses apart from chemical weapons. Plants which manufacture more than 30 tonnes per year must be declared and can be inspected, and there are restrictions on export to countries which are not CWC signatories. Examples of these substances are phosgene, which has been used as a chemical weapon but which is also a precursor in the manufacture of many legitimate organic compounds and triethanolamine, used in the manufacture of nitrogen mustard but also commonly used in toiletries and detergents.

The treaty also deals with carbon compounds called in the treaty Discrete organic chemicals.[6] 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.

Member states

Almost all countries in the world have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. Currently 188 of the 195 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, Somalia, and Syria).

Known stockpiles (of chemical weapons)

As of May 2009, there were four member countries which had declared stockpiles:

Iraq did not enter the treaty until February 2009, not declaring a weapons stockpile until April.[9] 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.[10] These weapons contained sarin and mustard agents but were so badly corroded that they could not have been used as originally intended.[11] In April 2009, Iraq made a declaration to the OPCW apparently indicating the continuing presence of some chemical warfare remnants.[7]

Stockpiles eliminated under the Convention

Albania's stockpile was eliminated in 2007. An undeclared "state party", (probably South Korea) eliminated its stockpile in late 2008. India's stockpile was completely eliminated in April 2009.[7]

Known production facilities (of chemical weapons)

Thirteen countries declared chemical weapons production facilities:

By 2007, all 65 declared facilities had been deactivated and 94% (61) have been certified as destroyed or converted to civilian use.[12] As of the end of February 2008, 42 facilities were destroyed while 19 were converted for civilian purposes.[13]

World stockpile

The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 43,760 tons in early 2008. A total of 71,315 tonnes have been declared to OPCW of which about 29,602 tonnes (41.5%) had been destroyed by September 30, 2008. More than 35.4% (3.07) of the 8.67 million declared chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed.[14] (Treaty confirmed destruction totals often lag behind state-declared totals.) 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.


The treaty set up several steps with deadlines toward complete destruction of chemical weapons.

Reduction Phases
Phase % Reduction Deadline Notes
I 1% April 2000  
II 20% April 2002 Complete destruction of empty munitions, precursor chemicals,
filling equipment and weapons systems
III 45% April 2004  
IV 100% April 2007 No extensions permitted past April 2012

Current progress

By December 31, 2008, 43% of Class 1, at least 52% of Class 2 and all Class 3 declared chemicals had been destroyed.[15][16] Furthermore, only about 50% of countries had passed the required legislation to outlaw participation in chemical weapons production.[17]

  • Albania: On July 11, 2007, the OPCW confirmed the destruction of the entire chemical weapons stockpile in Albania. Albania is the first nation to completely destroy all of its chemical weapons under the terms of the CWC.[15] The Albanian stockpile included 16,678 kilograms of mustard agent, lewisite, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone. The United States assisted with and funded the destruction operations.[18]
  • A State Party: The unspecified "state party" had destroyed all of its stockpile by the end of 2008.[15][16]
  • India: 100% of India's chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed by the end of April 2009.[7]
  • Iraq: Iraq joined in CWC in 2009, declaring "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.[7] 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.
  • Libya: Libya's entire chemical weapons stockpile is expected to be destroyed by 2011[15]
  • U.S.A.: The United States of America destroyed over 58% (16,126 metric tons) of its declared stockpile by December 31, 2008.[16] The U.S. had completed Phase III in June 2007, having destroyed over half of its stockpile.[15] As of 2007, over 66% of the chemical weapons destroyed in the world since the treaty came into force were destroyed in the U.S. The United States General Accounting Office has announced it does not expect the United States to complete its campaign until 2014, after the treaty's final deadline. The Pentagon, in late 2006, announced that it expected disposal of the U.S. stockpile to not be completed until 2023.[19]
  • Russia: Russia destroyed 30% (11,960 metric tons) of its stockpile by the end of 2008.[16] Russia had destroyed 24% by the end of 2007.[15][20] Russia completed Phase II in 2007 and had received extensions on the remaining phases. The United States General Accounting Office has announced it does not expect Russia to reach 100% destruction until 2027; however, Russia has declared its intention to complete operations by the treaty deadline of 2012.[15]


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.[20]

See also


Related international law

Chemical weapons

Restricted substances


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i United 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. ^ Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty: Annex on chemicals
  6. ^ Chemical weapons at
  7. ^ a b c d e India Completes Chemical Weapons Disposal; Iraq Declares Stockpile, Chris Schneidmiller, Global Security Newswire, April 27, 2009
  8. ^ "Libya Submits Initial Chemical Weapons Declaration". OPCW. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  9. ^ Iraq Joins Chemical Weapons Convention, January 14, 2009, Chris Schneidmiller, Global Security Newswire
  10. ^ Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq : US intelligence,, June 21, 2006
  11. ^ Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria,, report filed by American Forces Press Service, June 29, 2006
  12. ^ Tenth Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the Chemical Weapons Convention
  13. ^ The Chemical Weapons Ban: Facts and Figures
  14. ^ Demilitarisation
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "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]
  16. ^ a b c d "Global Chemical Weapons Disarmament Operations Approach Halfway Mark", Global Security Newswire, National Journal Group, February 20, 2009
  17. ^ "The Chemical Weapons Convention at 10:An Interview With OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter",, Interviewed by Oliver Meier. Accessed Apr 29, 2008
  18. ^ Albania – First Country to Destroy All Of Its Chemical Weapons,, U.S. Department of State, July 13, 2007
  19. ^ Chemical Weapons Disposal Is Critical To National Security,, Chemical and Engineering News, January 18, 2007
  20. ^ a b "Russia, U.S. face challenge on chemical weapons", Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, August 7, 2007, accessed August 7, 2007

External links

Simple English

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control agreement which prohibits chemical weapons. It is forbidden to make, store or use the weapons. Every country can become a part of it and most countries (188 in 2010) are. The full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (abbreviated OPCW) is the international organization which organizes the discussions and decisions on the convention. It also checks if member states follow the rules by inspections.


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