Gottemoeller: CWC has unfinished business

Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. acting under secretary for arms control and international security, presented a statement last week during the third session of the Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference.

Gottemoeller praised the progress the CWC made in the last 15 years, including the destruction of thousands of tons of chemical agents and millions of munitions in possessor states. While much has been done toward accomplishing the convention's goals, Gottemoeller said that much unfinished business remains.

Gottemoeller noted that there are eight non-members to the CWC, keeping the convention from becoming universal.

"Bringing all remaining non-member states into the convention, especially those that possess chemical weapons, is essential to realize the convention's objectives," Gottemoeller said. "All of us must continue to stress that there is no justification for any country to keep the option to have chemical weapons. The (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and states parties must actively engage each of the eight remaining states-not-party at all levels."

Gottemoeller also discussed Syria, the subject of recent chemical weapons allegations during battles in the ongoing conflict.

"This conference must embrace its international responsibility, and in its words and in its actions defend that vision of a world free of the scourge of chemical weapons," Gottemoeller said. "If this conference remains silent on the Syria (chemical weapon) threat, it will be a silence heard around the world; indeed, a silence most clearly heard by those who oppose that vision and would use chemical weapons to the detriment of all mankind."

Gottemoeller said that when the last of the chemical weapons are destroyed in the 188 states parties to the CWC, the convention must also prepare for the future.

"As if these challenges were not enough, looming ahead is the uncharted post-destruction era," Gottemoeller said. "We must begin now to anticipate and prepare for the longer term, for a period of unlimited duration. If we successfully eliminate all chemical weapons only to have them return in the hands of new actors, we will see our historic success undermined and devalued."

The U.S. has destroyed close to 90 percent of its category one chemical weapons and is fully committed to achieving 100 percent destruction of chemical weapons as soon as practically possible.