Monthly Archives: October 2013

OPCW and Nobel Peace Prize

Wasn’t on my radar, I have to say. The Nobel Committee’s announcement is here; the OPCW statement is on their front page. I was going to point out that the Nobel committee has previously recognized efforts to control weapons, but they beat me to it:

Disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons. By means of the present award to the OPCW, the Committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons.

Here’s the full text of Nobel’s will. The relevant part reads:

The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts…one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

OPCW and Destruction Technology

Thought this might be of interest. According to the OPCW’s page on CW destruction,

Member countries cannot destroy chemical weapons in any way that they like. First of all, the principles and methods for the destruction of chemical weapons have to strictly follow the obligations of the Treaty: para. 12 of Part 4 A of the Verification Annex. On the second hand, the Convention stipulates that the destruction process cannot harm people or the environment.

Now, here are the most relevant portions of the Verification Annex

Principles and methods for destruction of chemical weapons

12. “Destruction of chemical weapons” means a process by which chemicals are converted in an essentially irreversible way to a form unsuitable for production of chemical weapons, and which in an irreversible manner renders munitions and other devices unusable as such.

13. Each State Party shall determine how it shall destroy chemical weapons, except that the following processes may not be used: dumping in any body of water, land burial or open pit burning. It shall destroy chemical weapons only at specifically designated and appropriately designed and equipped facilities.

14. Each State Party shall ensure that its chemical weapons destruction facilities are constructed and operated in a manner to ensure the destruction of the chemical weapons; and that the destruction process can be verified under the provisions of this Convention.

More on Syria CW Declaration

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to know the contents of Syria’s declaration to the OPCW. According to the OPCW EC decision, Syria submitted

names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.

The EC decision calls on Syria to “supplement” its previous declaration with the following information:

the chemical name and military designator of each chemical in its
chemical weapons stockpile, including precursors and toxins, and
quantities thereof;

the specific type of munitions, sub-munitions and devices in its
chemical weapons stockpile, including specific quantities of each type
that are filled and unfilled; and

the location of all of its chemical weapons, chemical weapons storage
facilities, chemical weapons production facilities, including mixing
and filling facilities, and chemical weapons research and development
facilities, providing specific geographic coordinates;

I’ve wondered which Syrian delivery vehicles Damascus considers as part of its chemical weapons arsenal, since the government seems to have assigned many of them dual roles. Here’s the applicable part of the CWC definition of chemical weapons:

(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices.

Not sure that helps sort it out, at least for me. According to the OPCW, Syria has provided the additional information. It’ll be interesting to see what gets made public.