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Chemical Weapons Convention

Chemical Weapons Convention
Opened for signatureJanuary 13, 1993 in Paris
Entered into forceApril 29, 1997
Conditions for entry into forceRatification by 50 states and the convening of a Preparatory Commission
Parties183 (as of January 2008)

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



Signed in 1993 and entered into force on April 29, 1997 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[1], 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 of 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.[2] 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. As of 3 January 2008, 183 of the 195 states recognized by the United Nations are party to the CWC. Of the 12 states that have not, five have signed but not yet ratified the treaty: (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, and Myanmar) while seven states have not signed the treaty: Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria.

Known Stockpiles (of Chemical Weapons)

Weapons of mass destruction
By type

Biological warfare
Chemical warfare
Nuclear weapons
Radiological weapons

By country
Albania Algeria
Argentina Australia
Brazil Canada
PR China France
Germany India
Iran Iraq
Israel Japan
Netherlands North Korea
Pakistan Poland
Russia South Africa
Syria Taiwan (ROC)
United Kingdom United States
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As of 2007, there were six member countries which had declared stockpiles:

  • United States
  • Russia
  • India
  • Albania
  • Libya[3]
  • An undeclared "state party", possibly South Korea

Iraq has not signed the treaty. Iraq's chemical weapons were 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.[4] These weapons contained sarin and mustard agents but were so badly corroded that they could not have been used as originally intended.[5]

Known Production Facilities (of Chemical Weapons)

Twelve countries declared chemical weapons production facilities:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • China
  • France
  • India
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Libya
  • Russian Federation
  • Serbia and Montenegro
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • A "state party"

By 2007, all 65 declared facilities had been deactivated and 94% (61) have been certified as destroyed or converted to civilian use.[1] As of the end of June, 42 facilities were destroyed while 19 were converted for civilian purposes.[2]

World Stockpile

The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 48,692 tons in early 2007. A total of 71,330 tonnes have been declared to OPCW of which about 23,688 tonnes (over 30%) had been destroyed by June 30, 2007. More than 30% of the 8.67 million declared chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed.[3] 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 July 2007, 33% of known chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed worldwide, falling far short of the 100% goal set for in 2007.[6] Furthermore, by 2006, only 40% of countries had passed the required legislation to outlaw participation in chemical weapons production.

On 11 July 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. The Albanian stockpile included 16,678 kilograms of mustard agent, lewisite, adamsite, and chloroacetophenone. The United States assisted with and funded the destruction operations.[7]

The United States of America completed Phase III in June 2007. Over 66% of the chemical weapons destroyed in the world since the treaty came into force were destroyed in the U.S. Russia completed Phase II in 2007 and had received extensions on the remaining phases. Russia had destroyed 22% of its stockpile by July, 2007.[6] In 2006, India, and "a state party", which together accounted for three percent of world stockpiles, had destroyed 39% and 29%, respectively, of their weapons. Libya only joined the convention in 2004, and had just commenced activities.

The United States General Accounting Office has announced it does not expect Russia to reach 100% destruction until 2027, and the United States, 2014; both 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.[8]


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.[6]

See also

Related International Law

  • Biological Weapons Convention
  • Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
  • Australia Group
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NNPT)

Chemical Weapons

Restricted substances


  1. ^ Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty: Annex on chemicals
  2. ^ Chemical weapons at
  3. ^ Libya Submits Initial Chemical Weapons Declaration. OPCW. Retrieved on 2007-06-11.
  4. ^ Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq : US intelligence,, 21 June, 2006
  5. ^ Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria,, report filed by American Forces Press Service, 29 June 2006
  6. ^ a b c "Russia, U.S. face challenge on chemical weapons",;_ylt=AmPckGc9K28MkOs14MDMXKqs0NUE, Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, August 7, 2007, accessed August 7, 2007
  7. ^ Albania – First Country to Destroy All Of Its Chemical Weapons,, U.S. Department of State, July 13, 2007
  8. ^ Chemical Weapons Disposal Is Critical To National Security,, Chemical and Engineering News, January 18, 2007
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chemical_Weapons_Convention". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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