ORGANIC AND BIOMOLECULAR CHEMISTRY DIVISION
IUPAC COMMITTEE ON CHEMICAL WEAPON DESTRUCTION TECHNOLOGIES
WORKING PARTY ON EVALUATION OF CHEMICAL WEAPON DESTRUCTION
Critical evaluation of proven chemical weapon destruction technologies
(IUPAC Technical Report)
Graham S. Pearson1,**
and Richard S. Magee2
1Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford,
Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP, UK 2Carmagen Engineering, Inc., 4
West Main Street, Rockaway, NJ 07866, USA
Abstract: A critical evaluation is made of the chemical weapon
destruction technologies demonstrated for 1 kg or more of agent in order
to provide information about the technologies proven to destroy chemical
weapons to policy-makers and others concerned with reaching decisions
about the destruction of chemical weapons and agents. As all chemical
agents are simply highly toxic chemicals, it is logical to consider
the destruction of chemical agents as being no different from the consideration
of the destruction of other chemicals that can be as highly toxictheir
destruction, as that of any chemicals, requires the taking of appropriate
precautions to safeguard worker safety, public health, and the environment.
The Chemical Weapons Convention that entered into force in 1997 obliges
all States Parties to destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons within
10 years from the entry into force of the Conventionby 2007with the
possibility of an extension for up to 5 years to 2012. There is consequently
a tight timeline under the treaty for the destruction of stockpiled
chemical weapons and agentsprimarily held in Russia and the United States.
Abandoned or old chemical weaponsnotably in Europe primarily from World
War I, in China from World War II as well as in the United Statesalso
have to be destroyed. During the past 40 years, more than 20 000 tonnes
of agent have been destroyed in a number of countries and over 80 %
of this has been destroyed by incineration. Although incineration is
well proven and will be used in the United States to destroy over 80
% of the U.S. stockpile of 25 800 tonnes of agent, considerable attention
has been paid particularly in the United States to alternative technologies
to incineration because of several constraints that are specific to
the United States. Much of the information in this report is based on
U.S. experienceas the United States had, along with the Russian Federation,
by far the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and agents anywhere
in the world. The United States has made much progress in destroying
its stockpile of chemical weapons and agents and has also done more
work than any other country to examine alternative technologies for
the destruction of chemical weapons and agents. However, the national
decisions to be taken by countries faced with the destruction of chemical
weapons and agents need to be made in the light of their particular
national conditions and standardsand thus may well result in a decision
to use different approaches from those adopted by the United States.
This report provides information to enable countries to make their own
informed and appropriate decisions.
** Corresponding author.
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