DSTL hosts Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference

The U.K. Ministry of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) hosted the 17th Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference on June 4-6 in London.

The conference was the latest in a continuing series of international chemical weapons demilitarization (CWD) conferences. The event was meant to assess the global progress in chemical weapons destruction while providing an opportunity for worldwide experts to discuss ongoing efforts to eliminate chemical weapons and overcome technical challenges.

The annual CWD conferences began in 1998, shortly after the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) came into force.

Andrew Murrison, the U.K. minister for international security strategy, said the conference was timely, given Syria's use of chemical weapons and its accession to the CWC last year.

"The U.K. has joined with other countries to provide expertise and resources to achieve the earliest possible dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme, as mandated by the United Nations Security Council," Murrison said. "This conference is especially timely in providing a unique opportunity for experts from across the world to exchange information and best practice in the challenging task of ridding the world of chemical weapons."

Discussions at the event focused on the progress made by national CWD programs, technical challenges and destruction technologies. The participants also looked at technologies and strategies related to chemical safety and security, explosive detonation technology and the recovery of chemical weapons from rivers and seas.

Delegates attended the event from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Germany, China, Japan, the U.S. and several other countries.

"The unprecedented challenge of eliminating Syrian chemical weapons has amply demonstrated the robustness of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the commitment of its states parties," Ahmet UzUmcU, the director general of the OPCW, said. "I welcome the important role that the Chemical Weapon Demilitarisation Conference continues to play in informing our collective efforts to achieve a world free of chemical weapons."