Chemical Weapons Convention

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The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 30,308 tons in early 2010.[7] A total of 71,315 tonnes of agents, 8.67 million munitions and containers, and 70 production facilities were declared to OPCW before destruction activities began. In addition, 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.

Timeline of destruction

The treaty set up several steps with deadlines toward complete destruction of chemical weapons, with a procedure for requesting deadline extensions. No country reached total elimination by the original treaty date although several have finished under allowed extensions.

Progress of destruction

By October 28, 2010, a total of 43,131 metric tons or 60.58% of declared chemical weapons (of Category 1, which is the main category) had been destroyed as well as all Category 3 declared chemicals. More than 45% (3.95 million) chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed.[8] (Treaty confirmed destruction totals often lag behind state-declared totals.) Only about 50% of countries had passed the required legislation to outlaw participation in chemical weapons production.[9]

Three state parties, Albania (included 16,678 kilograms of mustard agent, lewisite, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone),[10] an unspecified state party[10] (widely believed to be South Korea)[11] and India[11] already have completed the destruction of their complete stockpiles. Russia and the United States, which declared the largest amounts of chemical weapons are in the progress of destruction and had processed 49% and 81% of their respective stockpiles.[5][12] The deadline set for both countries of April 2012 however will not be reached.[5] Libya has started destruction and has destroyed 4% of its stockpile (as well as 39% of its Category 2 chemical weapons). Iraq has yet to start destruction. Japan and China have started in October 2010 the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China by means of mobile destruction units.[13][12]

Expected complications with the Iraq stockpile

When Iraq joined the CWC in 2009, it declared "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.[11] 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. 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.[16] These weapons contained sarin and mustard agents but were so badly corroded that they could not have been used as originally intended.[17]

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