Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No.1, January 2000

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Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No. 1
January 2000

News and Notices from Other Societies and Unions

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Report of First Annual Meeting of National Authority Representatives and First Meeting of Chemical Industry Representatives Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The Hague, Netherlands,
26-27 June 1999

Benjamin C. Garrett [10704 Cogswell Place, Fairfax Station, VA 22039-1823 USA; E-mail: garrettb@battelle.org; Tel.: +1 703 978 1873 (home), +1 703 413 7837 (office); Fax: +1 703 413 8880] has submitted the following report:

Summary
Background
Selected Meeting Issues
Meeting Materials
Presentations by Others
Meeting Administrative Materials

Summary

The first annual meeting of National Authority [Note 1] representatives and the first meeting of chemical industry representatives was held 26-27 June 1999 at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), The Hague, The Netherlands. [Note 2] Hosted by the OPCW, the meeting was intended to provide an overview of OPCW activities, especially those performed in support of inspections. Most of the meeting consisted of scripted briefings by OPCW staff. Occasional opportunities were afforded for comments from participants. Attendance was overwhelmingly from the National Authorities and their delegations, with chemical industry representatives comprising about ten percent of the audience.

The presentations demonstrated that the work of the OPCW is well organized and brisk; that scientific input is on occasion both solicited and considered; and that additional work by the OPCW may be needed to maintain the confidence of scientists, who share in the burden of complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) .[Note 3] The meeting concluded without specific comments regarding the prospects of a second meeting of chemical industry representatives and without specific requests for input from nongovernmental organizations or individuals.

Background

The CWC entered into force in April 1997. At the time of the meeting, 125 nations had ratified and acceded to the CWC. The CWC mandates, among other things, that each States Party mus

  • declare and destroy all chemical weapon stockpiles on its territory
  • undertake certain obligations regarding the destruction of old and abandoned chemical weapons; [Note 4] and
  • submit to an elaborate and potentially intrusive regime of data declarations and on-site inspections to maintain confidence that prohibited activities are not taking place.

This meeting marked the first annual gathering of representatives from the offices of the National Authorities of the States Parties as well as the first gathering of representatives from chemical industry. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) was invited to participate as a representative of chemical industry.

The meeting took place over a weekend. On the following Monday, 28 June, a week-long session of the Conference of States Parties began. Therefore, many National Authority representatives had already gathered in The Hague, and their turnout at this meeting was excellentóbetween 200 and 250.[Note 5] There were about 25-27 chemical industry representatives. The agenda, list of participants, and other materials handed out at the meeting are listed at the end of this report, and copies can be obtained from the author.

Selected Meeting Issues

The meeting was given over to various presentations, mostly by OPCW staff. Occasions were afforded for discussion, although these occasions were limited. The discussion periods were dominated by three issues:

1. conduct of inspections, with the discussion topic being experiences of industry as the inspected party;

2. concentration limit for mixtures containing one or more Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 chemicals [Note 6] as a component, with the discussion topic being the lack of harmonization among States Parties regarding a threshold for reporting relative to the concentration of Schedule 2 or 3 chemical in the mix; and

3. declarations and inspections for Discrete Organic Chemicals (DOCs),[Note 7] with the discussion topic being the approach the OPCW Inspectorate might take in conducting inspections of DOC facilities.

Issues of possible interest to the IUPAC membership that failed to be discussed during this meeting include the following:

  • destruction of old and abandoned chemical weapons;
  • destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles; and
  • conversion of facilities formerly associated with chemical weapons.

The failure to discuss these (and other) issues more likely reflects the limited time available for discussion of any issues than it does a conscious effort by the OPCW to avoid confronting these issues.

Conduct of Inspections

Several presentations dealt with the conduct of inspections. Comments from chemical industry representatives suggested that:

  • Industries, in general, have confidence that the OPCW has instituted procedures to safeguard confidential business information, including results from on-site inspections.
  • Industries are monitoring the time required to comply with inspections and with other CWC requirements. Data collected to date suggest the time requirements are modest, but the chemical industries remain concerned that the time requirements may increase.
  • Industries remain unconvinced that the OPCW has placed its monitoring and inspection requirements into the full context of all such monitoring and inspecting taking place at any one industrial site. Specifically, industries must address requests from national and regional authorities for monitoring and inspecting general site health and safety; labor practices; compliance with Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), and similar food- and drug-related requirements; and reporting of revenue (taxes), including treatment of tax-free and reduced-tax chemicals. Therefore, the prospect exists for several inspections occurring simultaneously, each demanding immediate access and full attention from industry personnel.

The meeting concluded without any position taken on the issue of the conduct of inspection, and this topic is certain to be discussed at any future meetings of National Authority and chemical industry representatives. But the general feeling was that the OPCW has earned the confidence of both States Parties and industry in the inspections conducted thus far.

Concentration Limit for Mixtures

For purposes of reporting exports and imports of Scheduled chemicals, the CWC sets no threshold for the amount (concentration) of a Schedule 2 or a Schedule 3 chemical present in mixtures. The OPCW might establish a threshold, but so far has failed to achieve a consensus on this issue. Therefore, States Parties are free to set their own threshold. This situation prevails, with some States Parties having no lower limit (that is, any amount of a Schedule 2 or 3 chemical present in a mixture requires that the mixture be declared for purposes of export and import). Other States Parties have set limits or thresholds; 20-30% thresholds seem common (that is, if a mix contains less than the threshold of a Schedule 2 or 3 chemical or of all Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals in aggregate, then that mix is exempt from declaration for export and import purposes).

The lack of harmonization among States Parties in dealing with Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals in mixtures was important to chemical industry representatives, as evidenced by papers submitted by industry groups and by the comments made during the meeting. The OPCW staff appeared attentive to industry comments, but were unprepared to deal with this issue in any substantive way. Therefore, there was no sense of closure on the issue, which is certain to be the subject of any future meeting.

Discrete Organic Chemicals

A States Party is obliged to make an initial declaration of DOC production facilities for plants "which produced by synthesisÖ[a DOC] containing the elements phosphorus, sulfur, or fluorine" (CWC, Verification Annex, Part IX, paragraph 1). Such a DOC is referred to as a PSF-chemical.

The chemical industry representatives were particularly interested in the issue of DOC facility inspections because inspections will start in May 2000, unless the Conference of States Parties, by consensus, agrees to postpone.[Note 8]

As discussed during the meeting, DOC facility inspections pose a peculiar challenge both to the inspectors and to the inspected party. According to the OPCW Inspectorate staff, the objective of the inspection should be to demonstrate the absence of Schedule 1 chemicals. Therefore, the inspection exercise proves a negative; that is, the inspectors must show that no Schedule 1 chemicals are present (in this context, at a DOC facility producing a PSF-chemical).

To fulfill this objective, the inspector presupposes the negative: namely, "Schedule 1 chemicals are present". Then the inspector examines every aspect of the DOC facility to locate a Schedule 1 chemical and, if none is found, assumes they are all absent. No threshold has been established for Schedule 1 chemicals, and while inspection at the molecular level seems absurd, it has not been expressly ruled out. Therefore, the potential for an intrusive and time-consuming DOC facility inspection is great.

The OPCW Inspectorateís approach for DOC inspection differs, however, from the one of demonstrating the absence of Schedule 1 chemicals. The difference seems rooted in political realities and the consensus-building that typify all OPCW activities. The agreed-upon approach, as stated during this meeting, is that the inspectors will examine the facility and its records to determine whether the facility declaration is consistent with what is observed and what can be deduced via records. In reality, this inspection documents the validity and consistency of the DOC declaration, rather than demonstrating the absence of a Schedule 1 chemical. Therefore, a Schedule 1 chemical might be found on inspection if and only if its production causes some perceptible alteration to what one might normally associate with DOC production.

In reality, the DOC production facility inspection regime will verify the validity of a DOC declaration, rather than demonstrate the absence of a Schedule 1 chemical. This approach appears manageable (unlike the approach of demonstrating the absence of a chemical). It remains unproved whether this approach will also ensure the arms control objective of prohibiting chemical weapon production.

Because DOC facility inspections begin in 2000, this issue is certain to merit attention at any followup meeting of chemical industry representatives.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The discussions during the first annual meeting of National Authority representatives and the first meeting of chemical industry representatives were enlightening but inconclusive. Several issues surfaced where the input of scientistsóespecially those working in chemical industryómight benefit the work of the OPCW as well as the effectiveness of the CWC. Based on this meeting, there appears to be no consensus regarding a threshold for Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals in mixtures. Similarly, the approach to inspecting DOC facilities is evolving. In both instances, IUPAC might consider providing a "Friend of the Chair" technical paper outlining the scientific and technical considerations that bear on the risk to the purposes of the CWC.

Meeting Materials

OPCW Informational Papers

"Guidelines for determining declarable industrial facilities", Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, November, 1998, 23 pp.

"The regulation of the international transfer of chemicals by the Chemical Weapons Convention", Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, November, 1998, 4 pp.

OPCW (1998). Images, The Hague, The Netherlands, 36 pp. [Note: Images is a glossy brochure describing the OPCW.]

OPCW Presentations

Forgacs, Laszlo (Head, Operations and planning branch, Inspectorate, OPCW) "Confidential business information (CBI) issues and resolution during CWC inspections".

Gee, John (Deputy Director-General, OPCW). "Opening remarks".

Guerra, Gaston (Head, Declarations branch, Verification division, OPCW). "Making declarations work, part I (Imports and exports)".

"International cooperation programmes" (undated), 3 pp.

Kane, Anand, and Gilliquet, Jean-Nicolas (Policy officers and Inspectors, Inspectorate, OPCW). "Issues resulting from industry inspections".

Makhubalo, John (Director, International cooperation and assistance, OPCW). "Closing Remarks" .

NíGuessan, Eugene (Inspector, Inspectorate, OPCW). "In-house preparation for inspection team members".

Shimamoto, Shu (Daicel Chemical Industries, Ltd., and Japan Chemical Industry Association, Japan). "Low concentration limit and inspection frequency of Schedule 2 plant site".

Skripin, Yuri (Inspector, Inspectorate, OPCW). "Conduct of inspection on Schedule 2 facilities, Schedule 3 facilities, and other chemical production facilities".

Wadhwa, Anil (Head, Government relations and political affairs branch, External relations division, OPCW). "Issues of interest to National Authorities and chemical industry".

Yu, Zhiyong (Mission planning coordinator, Operations and planning branch, Inspectorate, OPCW). "Keeping ready for inspections. Operational aspects on receiving and escorting inspections".

Presentations by Others

[Australia] Safeguards and nonproliferation office, Government of Australia. "Making declarations work: Export and import".

[CEFIC] European Chemical Industry Council/Conseil Europeen de LíIndustries Chimique (CEFIC). "Discussion paper." [Topic: Feedback from industry on the implementation of the CWC.]

[CEFIC] European Chemical Industry Council/Conseil Europeen de LíIndustries Chimique (CEFIC). "Discussion paper on low concentration issue."

[Czech Republic] Government of the Czech Republic. "Status of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Czech Republic".

[Japan] Igarashi, Takuya (Chemical weapons control policy office, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Government of Japan). "Lesson [sic] from investigation into discrepancies in import and export data of Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals".

[Pakistan] Government of Pakistan. "Making declarations work. Pakistanís experience."

[Sweden] Government of Sweden. "Manual for inspections of Schedule 3-plant sites, 24 June 1999, 24 pp.

[Switzerland] de S·, Liliana (Federal office of foreign economic affairs, Government of Switzerland). "Dealing with industry declarations".

Meeting Administrative Materials [Note 9]

Program for the First Annual Meeting of National Authorities and Chemical Industry Representatives, The Hague, 26-27 June 1999.

List of Participants, First Annual Meeting of the National Authorities and Chemical Industry, The Hague, 26-27 June 1999.

Notes

1. The term "National Authority" has a precise meaning within the context of the OPCW. A National Authority is that person, persons, or office designated by a States Party to deal with the OPCW on issues regarding compliance. [Back to Text]

2. This meeting was given various names by the staff of the OPCW, creating some confusion. The name listed here is taken from the original invitation distributed by the OPCW. While the OPCW staff intend to have the gathering of National Authority representatives be an annual affair, there was no such intention stated regarding the meeting of chemical industry representatives. [Back to Text]

3. The proper name for this arms control treaty is "Convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction". Chemical Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Treaty are commonly used, as is the abbreviation CWC. That abbreviation is used in this report. All references to the CWC are taken from the English version. [Back to Text]

4. "Old chemical weapons" is a category separate from "abandoned chemical weapons". Often, though, for purposes of discussion, the two are lumped together as "old and abandoned chemical weapons". That practice is followed here. [Back to Text]

5. Many National Authority representatives are members of the Permanent Delegations of their respective States Party. Such members have permanent passes to the OPCW and were not required to register for the meeting. Therefore, the list of participants fails to capture the presence of such persons, causing a significant undercounting of overall attendance. The attendance figure given here was derived by counting attendees (minus OPCW staff). [Back to Text]

6. The CWC provides three schedules of chemicals. In brief, a Schedule 1 chemical is one that has both been a chemical weapon and poses a high risk to the purpose of the CWC. An example is sulfur mustard [bis(2-chloroethyl)sulfide]. A Schedule 2 chemical is one that may be a precursor to a Schedule 1 chemical, poses significant risk to the purposes of the CWC, and is not produced in large commercial quantities. An example is thiodiglycol [bis(2-hydroxyethyl)sulfide], used in producing sulfur mustard. A Schedule 3 chemical is one that has been a chemical weapon, poses a risk, and may be produced in large commercial quantities. An example is chlorine. [Back to Text]

7. The CWC defines a DOC to be "any chemical belonging to the class of chemical compounds consisting of all compounds of carbon except for its oxides, sulfides, and metal carbonates, identifiable by chemical name, by structural formula, if known, and by [CAS] registry number, if assigned" (Verification Annex, Part I, paragraph 4). [Back to Text]

8. The Conference of States Parties met 28 June through 2 July and did not reach a consensus on postponing DOC facility inspections. Therefore, these inspections should start in 2000, barring some unforeseen development. [Back to Text]

9. A copy can be provided on request to the author. [Back to Text]

 

 

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