Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
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International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference

Dstl hosts 18th Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference, London, 3 - 5 June 2015.

The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has been hosting the latest in an annual series of international conferences in the effort to eliminate chemical weapons.

The destruction of chemical weapons is a high priority under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The 18th Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation (CWD) Conference, held in London yesterday, provided an opportunity for experts from all over the world to discuss their ongoing international co-operation in the effort to eliminate chemical weapons, and the technical challenges that remain.

Defence Minister Julian Brazier MP, who spoke at the conference, said yesterday:

I am proud of the leading role played by our armed forces, scientists and industry experts in the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons, showing true professionalism and expertise in the face of considerable technical and logistical challenges.

But despite our international successes, credible reports that chemical weapons are still being used in Syria act as a stark reminder that there is still much to be done to put an end to the use of these weapons. Today’s conference offers a unique opportunity to share knowledge and experience that will help eliminate chemical weapons.

The chemicals destroyed in the UK could have been used to make 100 tonnes of V Agent - the most lethal of the classical chemical weapons. Just one gram would be enough to kill between 100 and 200 people. If these chemicals had not been successfully removed from Syria and destroyed, then they could have been captured and used by terrorists.

The CWD conferences have been held annually around the world since 1998, shortly after the CWC, which bans chemical weapons, came into force. This year’s event was attended by the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (the international organisation responsible for the Chemical Weapons Convention), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, and representatives from the USA, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Germany and several other countries.

Discussions focused on the progress made by national CWD programmes, destruction technologies, and the technical challenges of carrying out destruction in unusual and demanding circumstances such as those in Syria. Participants also looked at explosive detonation technology, chemical safety and security, recovery of chemical weapons from rivers and seas, and innovative technologies.

Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said yesterday:

The coordinated effort which has brought about the near complete destruction of the declared chemical weapons stockpile in Syria is a considerable achievement of which the international community and the OPCW can be justifiably proud.

Sadly, ongoing events in that country also serve as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for the safe and effective destruction of all remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons, wherever they are in the world. I welcome the important role that the Chemical Weapon Demilitarisation Conference continues to play in contributing to this goal.

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