The U.S. is announcing the destruction of 90 percent of its chemical weapons. It won’t be able to deal with the rest, however, until 2021, just like Russia will fail to meet the deadline of the disarmament treaty.
According to its own statements, the U.S. has destroyed almost all of its chemical weapons. Corresponding work on the up to now largest chemical weapon depot in the country in Stockton, Utah with 13,600 tons of highly toxic substances was about to end, according to the responsible parties on Wednesday. On Saturday the depot is supposed to close with the announcement that 90 percent of the chemical weapons in the U.S. have been destroyed. However, the U.S. does not see itself in a position to destroy the remaining 10 percent in two arsenals in Colorado and Kentucky until 2021.
On 29 April 2012, the world was actually supposed to finally be free of chemical weapons of mass destruction. That is provided for in the treaty for the world-wide ban on chemical weapons (the CWC), which was signed after 24 years of negotiations at the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1993. The treaty went into effect on 29 April 1997 and has been ratified by 188 nations in the meantime.
But the 15-year time limit for the implementation of the treaty via the destruction of various chemical weapons will not be sufficient, advises the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, which is responsible for the monitoring of the treaty.
Since the treaty came into effect, seven of the 188 treaty nations have reported the possession of a total of 71,200 tons of extremely toxic substances that fall under prohibition. Of those, just under 72 percent have been destroyed by yesterday, according to the organization’s data. And of the reported 8.67 million pieces of ammunition for firing the chemicals, only 46 percent have been destroyed.
The furthest behind schedule in the fulfillment of their contractual obligations are Russia and the U.S., who amassed the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons worldwide during the Cold War. Russia presently has only destroyed 60 percent of its chemical weapons inventory and called for time until 2016 for the rest. Like the U.S., reasons for the delays in Russia were technical and environmental problems and objections from the population near the sites of destruction, as well as lack of money.
The civil war in Libya interrupted the destruction of its chemical weapon stockpiles. During the battles of 2011, two further chemical weapon depots were found that the Gaddafi regime had not reported to the OPCW. In Iraq, which only entered the convention in 2007, there are two additional depots with stockpiles from the 80s, according to statements of an OPCW spokesperson to the Tageszeitung [German newspaper]. These stockpiles are “sealed up and well-guarded”; their removal and destruction are too precarious under present conditions.
India, Albania and a third nation that is not permitted to be named according to an agreement with the OPCW have fulfilled the destruction of chemical weapons declared to the OPCW on time. Eight nations did not enter the treaty: Angola, Somalia, Burma, Syria, North Korea, Israel, Egypt and South Sudan. Among those, Syria and North Korea so far refuse any communication with the OPCW.