Field Report: Chemical Weapons Convention

We attended this week's Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, where the 16th CSP advanced the main goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) -- the complete and irreversible destruction of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction. While the United States and Russia will take another decade or more to complete the destruction of their stockpiles in a safe and environmentally sound manner --- and this timeframe misses the CWC-mandated deadline of April 29, 2012, for completing destruction -- the 188 States Parties have confirmed that both the U.S. and Russia are fully committed and doing everything in their power to finish their demilitarization programs. Treaty negotiators greatly underestimated the costs, technical challenges, and the political contentiousness of chemical weapons destruction, and the current CSP decision acknowledges that more time is needed for the two largest possessor states (the U.S. and Russia).

The final vote -- 101 to 1 -- confirmed this decision, but the U.S. Ambassador acknowledged that it was too bad not to be able to reach consensus. Iran, the only dissenting State Party, accused the U.S. of "non-compliance," but was isolated in the Conference by all other States Parties who were not willing to politicize the decision. More on the story here, from the Global Security Newswire.