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Transcript by: Federal News Service
KIMBALL: Good morning. We’re about to get started. Thank you all for being here.
I’m Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. And as many of you know, we’re an independent nongovernmental organization established in 1971. And it’s our mission to provide information and ideas and solutions to reduce the risks of and to eliminate the world’s most dangerous weapons — nuclear, chemical, biological and certain conventional weapons.
And so I’m very happy to see so many of you here today for our inaugural 2014 Tucker Conference — Jonathan Tucker Conference on Chemical and Biological Arms Control. And we have a very distinguished set of attendees today, including people from across the U.S. government, from embassies and missions here in Washington, from the expert NGO community, as well as an online audience. Welcome this morning.
And before we get rolling, I want to remind those of you with your smartphones to silence them, but as you do, get ready to participate in the conversation. We’re going to be online encouraging messages on Twitter and we’re using the hashtag, my staff came up with this, CBWConference14.
So, as many of you know, this conference is named for someone who was a giant in the field of chemical and biological arms control, Jonathan Tucker, a former member of the Arms Control Association board of directors, and more importantly a major force on the subject. His departure in 2011, his passing, leaves a tremendous void in the already shrinking field of biological and chemical weapons arms control.
And for those of you who knew him, you’ll remember that Jonathan was more than anything a wonderful guy, a sweet human being, and somebody who was very generous and warm-hearted. And for many of us, he stood out because he was always willing to help, and he was always very thoughtful about the issues. And one thing that I particularly admire, he was determined and persistent to find the answers to the tough questions on biosecurity, biological and chemical arms control and much more.
So, he not only knew his stuff, but he was a gifted speaker and prolific writer who could translate the complex into the comprehensible. And that’s one of the things we’re going to be trying to do today on this very important topic, to try to translate a very complex and large amount of information into the comprehensible.
So, a couple of years ago when the staff of the Arms Control Association and the board of directors were thinking of ways to try to honor Jonathan’s tremendous contributions, we were trying to come up with some ideas that would not only honor his work and his contributions, but to help carry on his life-long work on these issues. And so we resolved to put together a conference in his honor to try to bring this issue to greater attention here in Washington.
And so this is our first effort, and we hope to build on this in the years ahead. And so we would appreciate your advice and suggestions afterwards about how we can improve this project.
And we’re very pleased also this morning to have with us members of Jonathan’s family who have been kind enough to come all the way to D.C. to join us: Deborah Tucker, Jonathan’s mom; his sister Anne Shulman; and his niece. Thank you all for being here; glad you could make it.
So, this conference is going to be focusing quite a bit on the chemical weapons issue. We thought that was appropriate, given the 100th anniversary of the chemical weapons use in World War I and the recent events in — horrific events in Syria involving the large-scale use of chemical weapons for one of the first times since World War I.
And as our conference title suggests, “From Ypres to Damascus, 100 Years of Chemical Warfare and Disarmament,” we’re going to try to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time over the course of the day. And I think we’ve got a great lineup of people to try to do that for you.
Our first panel is going to take a look back at the use of chemical weapons on the battlefields of Europe, the global reaction, the decades-long effort to ban their use and eventually move to their verifiable elimination.
And our second panel is going to focus on the extraordinary international efforts over the course of the past year-plus to prevent the further use on a large scale of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria and to remove and dispose of its sizable and deadly CW arsenal in the middle of that country’s terrible civil war.
We have a great lunch speaker, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, who’s going to provide us with an update on efforts of the global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction.
And our third session is going to be focusing on current and future challenges facing the chemical weapons convention, the OPCW, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and its ongoing effort to work with states to dispose of the remaining prohibited stockpiles of CW around the world.
And then finally as our closing keynoter, we’re going to be hearing from Laura Holgate, the White House’s — on the national security staff of the White House for her perspectives on the ongoing Syria CW elimination operation.
So, as I said, we’ve got a great lineup of folks. We’ve got some wonderful people in the audience. I encourage you all to think as you’re hearing the presentations about questions and additional points, because after each of the panels, we’ll have discussion.
And to introduce the first panel and to moderate, we have one of the most informed and knowledgeable people in the field here. With me are our friend, our board member, Paul Walker, who’s the program director of environmental security and sustainability at Global Greens. He has been a major force in the field for many years and I’ve enjoyed working with Paul, especially in the last year as he’s helped the Arms Control Association provide information and insights about the Syria CW operation.
And I would also just point out, he’s got a very nice piece in the current issue of Arms Control Today on the Syria CW operation. So, you might want to take a look at that through the course of the day.
So with that, I’m going to turn this over to Paul, if you have any other introductory thoughts, but also just to introduce the next panel and the speakers. Thanks.
WALKER: Thanks, Daryl.
And very nice to see you all here this morning, and see a lot of good friends and colleagues in the audience I recognize.
I’m also very happy that we’ve been able to pull together such a good group of speakers today. I mean, it’s fairly unique. I think we have several people from the OPCW, several from Europe. We have a colleague from Bluegrass, Kentucky to talk much more specifically about the U.S. Weapons Destruction Program. And we also have Jonathan Tucker’s mom and other relatives here. So, welcome everybody.
I want to say, first, really, thank you to the Arms Control Association. I’m on the board, as Daryl mentioned, and I really think it’s a wonderful occasion and very appropriate to recognize Jonathan Tucker and really try to raise the chem-bio issue a little bit more in the Washington field.
I wanted to mention a couple of things about Jonathan, who was a good friend and colleague for years. Many of you know he went to Yale University. He also was a fellow MIT graduate, so we had a lot in common. Actually, we talked jokingly about the bombs and bullets studies we did at MIT in international security studies there. His family is from Cambridge. I’m also from Cambridge, Massachusetts, live there now, as many of you know.
And he worked as an arms control specialist in the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. I think we have one or two in the audience here I know who were at OTA as well, way back when, as we say in the good days.
He also worked at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency where actually I sort of cut my teeth as well, what we called ACDA, that many of you I’m sure are aware of. I was a graduate intern way back when in ACDA as well. And he worked at the State Department. He was an editor, too, of the magazine Scientific American and High Technology, where he wrote about military technologies, biotechnology and biomedical research.
I’d also note — and this is also pertinent for our discussions today too. From 1993 to ’95, Jonathan Tucker served on the U.S. delegation to the Prep Com, the Preparatory Commission for the OPCW, and those of you here from the OPCW are probably well aware of that. He was also a United Nation’s biological weapons inspector in Iraq in February 1995, after the first Gulf War, implementing U.N. sanctions after the war.
He was also a professional staff member of the Bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism chaired by former Senators Bob Graham, Democrat from Florida, and Jim Talent, a Republican from Missouri, who was also on the Armed Services Committee when I worked on that in the House of Representatives, which published the volume, “World at Risk,” which was critical of U.S. prevention strategies in the post 9/11 terrorism period.
A quote from a good friend — friend and colleague of his, Jonathan Winer, who some of you know at State Department, states, and I quote, “One thing important about Jonathan beyond reciting his wide-ranging academic, literary, and public policy achievements, are recognition of his importance to the community overall because of his commitment to the truth, scrupulous approach to fact and information, and rigorous standard for making judgments.”
And I would note, a good example of this was Jonathan’s persistent search for the truth in the 2001 anthrax attacks, that some of you recall. His skepticism over the FBI’s pursuit of Steven Hatfill and eventually Bruce Ivins as the lone culprits. Hatfill, you know, was eventually found innocent and won a lawsuit against the FBI, while a recent National Academy of Sciences analysis of the FBI probe raised serious doubts about Ivins’ guilt. Jonathan found the Ivins case to be circumstantial, too thin to base firm judgments on. He wanted more evidence before one could reach a conclusion about what really took place in 2001.
With regard to Iraq and the first Gulf War, I’d note particularly Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. Jonathan pursued the truth regarding U.S. forces impacted downwind by burned agents — burned chemical agents and disagreed with early U.S. denials of the so-called “Gulf War syndrome” allegations. And some of you know that’s come up again, of course, in the recent New York Times piece.
And the final note on Jonathan I’d say, he and I coauthored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. We actually wrote several things together over the years. The op-ed was based on the popular television series “24,” one of my favorite TV programs, which also warned of terrorist use of nuclear, chemical and/or biological weapons of mass destruction.
We argued that the U.S. and its partners in global engagement and threat reduction must stay the course with expensive, tedious long-term projects to secure, demilitarize and destroy weapons of mass destruction in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists. That’s still I think an issue with us today.
Jonathan was therefore very supportive of the so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program we’ve all worked with in DOD, of the G-8 Global Partnership, and we’ll have Bonnie Jenkins speak on this later on; the partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction; and of multilateral arms control and disarmament regimes, including the CWC, the BWC, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and related to inspection and verification regimes.
So with that as a little way of introducing the very appropriate, I think, theme of the conference with Jonathan Tucker’s name, let me just say we have three wonderful panelists here. I’m very happy and privileged to chair their discussion on the history of a 100 years of chemical warfare. I would note, too, that, you know, we’re approaching the 100th anniversary of the first major use of chemical warfare, which I’m sure they’ll talk about, on April 22nd next year when Germans first used chemical weapons in Ypres, Belgium.
So I’ll just introduce them very quickly. You have your — their bios, short bios in your schedule here, but we’re happy to have Pieter Trogh — and he and I have talked a lot about how to pronounce that last name, but it’s Trogh, right? Very close? Pretty close. OK. And Pieter is from the — I won’t give full bios on them all for reasons of time, but Pieter is from the Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium, where there will be some lengthy commemorations in mid-April this coming year. And I know an even with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that some of us will be involved in, too.
On Pieter’s right is Jean Pascal Zanders, a very close colleague and friend who’s an independent disarmament and security researcher at The Trench. There’s a wonderful blog that he does if you’re interested in these issues, as I’m sure you all are, called The Trench. You can search that. And he was formerly with the European Union Institute for Security Studies and has really worked for years on biological and chemical weapons issues.
And then on the far right is also a close colleague and friend, Ralf Trapp, who’s from Germany, but lives in France now. And is a chemist and toxicologist by training; worked with the East German Academy of Sciences in the field of chemical toxicology previously; and was also very involved with the OPCW. From 1998 to 2006, he was secretary of the Scientific Advisory Board.
So with that, I think we’ll go through each of the speakers. Each have I think about 15 minutes of PowerPoint, and then we’ll open it up for comment and questions and answers.
So with that, I’ll invite Pieter Trogh to the — to the podium.
TROGH: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, first of all, I would like to thank the organization to be here. I represent the Flanders Field Museum in Ypres, Belgium. And I’d like to share some thoughts on the use of chemical weapons during the First World War.
Fifteen minutes is a short time for such a broad subject, of course. So, the gas attack of the 22nd of April 1915 at Ypres, which is widely acclaimed as the first large-scale gas attack in history, will serve as a point of reference.
To understand the introduction of chemical weapons, I have to take you back to the first months of the First World War. When the war of movement turned to a war of trenches at the end of November 1914, the stalemate on the western front was complete. From the Belgian coast to the Swiss border, over 800 kilometers, both camps began to dig in and millions of soldiers didn’t know what would come. But one thing was clear, they would not be home for Christmas.
Industrial warfare proved to be all-consuming. The enormously powerful artillery fire and the deadly hail of machine gun bullets claimed masses of lives, but failed to break the stalemate of trench warfare. Troops stationed in well-constructed defense — defense lines enjoy the relative advantage of three-to-one over their attackers. And the military would spend the whole war seeking new weapons and tactics with which to achieve a breakthrough. Scientists would assist the military in achieving their ambition.
Against this historical background, western powers became interested in introducing unconventional weapons. Science, industry and military purposes would slowly converge. Of all warring nations, Germany was definitely far ahead when it came to research, supplies and organization of chemical warfare.
And one of their leading scientists was Fritz Haber, the chemist whose research would facilitate broad-fronted assaults using poison gas. And the first convenient agent for such a purpose in early 1915 appeared to be chlorine gas that would be discharged from cylinders. The German preparations took about two-and-a-half months, and a lot of aspects were to be taken into account.
The choice and development of weapons was one thing, but besides formal acceptance by the military to use the immoral or unchivalrous gas was needed. And then troops had to be trained and organized and sites to launch the assault had to be chosen. Practical preparations in the field had to be made, weather forecasts, et cetera. The course of chemical warfare in World War I showed that these vital factors easily could come in conflict with each other.
In the beginning of April 1915, the Germans thought they were ready and Ypres was selected to unleash the weapon. The attack on the 22nd of April 1915 has become famous in its own way, so I will not go too far into detail to describe it. But in the evening around five p.m., the Germans simultaneously opened about 6,000 cylinders along a seven kilometer front, four-and-a-half miles from north of Ypres, releasing more than 150 tons of chlorine gas within 10 minutes.
A huge poisonous cloud was formed and advanced slowly, driven by a warm light breeze towards the trenches on the opposite sides. The French troops who crewed those trenches were taken by complete surprise and they had no defense. Within minutes, those in the frontlines were engulfed and choking. Those who were not suffocating from spasms, broke and ran, but the gas followed and the front collapsed, leaving a large gap in the Allied line.
The Germans advanced cautiously. They, too, were taken by surprise actually and they followed the cloud, hardly meeting any resistance. They stopped at a strategic ridge a few miles in front of Ypres, having reached their first objectives and having gained a two and a half mile of enemy — of enemy territory.
The night was falling, and as they started to entrench, without being aware of it, at that very moment, their hesitation would be fatal to force a breakthrough. During the night, French, British and Canadian troops closed ranks, and the first counterattack was already launched the same night.
The day after, the second battle of Ypres exploded with great intensity. The surprise effect was gone, but the Germans still retained their chemical initiative.
Gas was released for five more times between the 24th of April and the 24th of May 1915, which was the end of the second battle of Ypres. But the objective now was to weaken enemy resistance just before an attack, just before an infantry attack, and to delay the movement of supplies and reinforcements.
The battle claimed about 40,000 lives, of which only a small amount could be ascribed to poison gas. But the front lines around Ypres did not disintegrate; the defensive perimeter only contracted by about three and a half mile.
Although there are no images of the gas cloud of the 22nd April, dozens of photographs were taken the day after by German soldiers who were ordered to bury the dead. Many of these images were later bought and sold, and some were even made into postcards to send home.
Those images remind us of the horror of the first use of the chemical weapons. But the introduction of chemical weaponry produced a multitude of reactions, described in the hundreds of witness accounts on both sides of the belligerents.
For — for instance, Willy Ziebert, one of the German pioneers who discharged the gas from the cylinders at Ypres, recalled after a visit to the battlefield the omnipresence of death.
In diaries and letters of French and British soldiers, we read about dirty German tricks, unfair fighting. This isn’t a war anymore but murder, assassination.
Indeed, one of the reactions was a heavy general wave of indignation, and it was picked up by Allied propaganda. Public opinion was aroused, emotional aversions were exploited. The news was flashed all over the pages with headlines like “Devilry, thy name is Germany,” et cetera.
Gas and chemical weapons had been on the agenda of the peace conferences at the Hague in 1899 and 1907. But at that time, it was very difficult to define or formalize rules regarding the use of a nonexistent weapon. The spirit of the — of the conferences was surely clear enough to stop new and potentially more awful weapons but later was obscure and open to widely deferring interpretation. So, Hague I and II set out a moral force to be reckoned with, but at the same time, it was — it was pretty ineffectual.
The Germans, out of their term, tried to justify themselves. They argued that the conventions did not cover the gas discharged from cylinders, and Allies had used gas first, referring to occasional use of tear gas by the — by the French, et cetera.
Anyway, the Allied forces knew what to do in the first place. To provide their — their troops with defensive means against the poisonous gas, after all protection against chemical weapons was linked with morale. If the men thought they were defenseless, they might panic and retreat, and protection was essential. Even improvisations were better than nothing. The first temporary masks arrived around halfway 1915, like the Hypo helmet, for instance.
Now, after the initial outcry over the use of poison gasses, the practice soon became common among Allied forces too, and chemical warfare became a war within the war and was mainly fought on two fronts: on the one hand, strive to come up with ever more innovative, destructive substances to inflict the enemy, on the other hand to strive for optimizing the measures of protection. It was a sequence of action-reaction, a game of leap frog.
And the soldiers at the front experienced the introduction of phosgene gas, mustard gas and other deadly derivatives. They suited several models of gas mask, and they saw the change of tactics from poisonous gas released from cylinders to the adoption of gas shells by artillery — by the artillery.
The approaches were differing between the belligerents, but in the end, each party was facing more or less the same conclusion, that chemical warfare had hardly any effect on the course of war, and thus, it had failed in its original purpose to break the stalemate.
There are several — several aspects of failure — the underestimation of the power of the weapon and other miscalculations back in April 1915, but afterwards, too often, too much improvisation and too less coordination, mutual incomprehension of officers and scientists, lack of commitment by the military.
However, the use of chemical weapons was quickly added to psychological warfare. Gas would not merely inflict casualties but also distress and generally demoralize the enemy, and in doing so, there were exceptional occasions or particular developments of temporary success.
But moreover, gas was a development of considerable military significance. The Great War was the first to involve science and technology on a large scale.
Since it was introduced in modern warfare during the First World War, chemical weapons have always troubled the minds of soldiers, politicians and civilians alike. Although unreliable and thus ineffective, the impact of poisonous gas was magnified by propaganda and rumor, especially in the 1920s and 30s, and the myths that surrounded the gas gave rise to endless discussions and speculations.
Now, so far, as known, there were only two public appeals to stop chemical warfare during the First World War. The first came from President Wilson after the gas — gas clouds at Ypres and the sinking of the Lusitania, both where a lot of American civilians died, and the second appeal came from the International Red Cross in February 1918.
However, nothing happened. The public at home was almost totally ignorant, as secrecy blanketed nearly all research, development and operations, and as a result, it was far from evident to organize protests at their home front.
I think during the war, probably most resistance to chemical weapons came, ironically, from the military itself, as many military considered it a dangerous, perverted and unpredictable weapon.
After the war, efforts were taken to ban and condemn the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Think of the treaty — the peace treaty of Versailles in 1919 but moreover, the protocol of Geneva in 1925. This was a very important step towards the banishment and prohibition of chemical weapons, but some dark pages in history of — of the 20th and 21st century tell us that we always have to be cautious and to continue to make efforts to ban its use, and to keep studying the past in order to take lessons for the future.
Thanks for your attention.
WALKER: Thank you very much, Pieter, and thank you also for staying within time.
Jean Pascal Zanders will go next.
ZANDERS: Thank you very much.
While we’re waiting for my slides to be put up on the screen, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me. I’ve known Jonathan since the end of the 1980s, was, of course, a great shock when I learned of his passing away.
I’m — I’m from Europe. He is from America. We had our differences of opinion relating to our geographic origins, which had to do with, you know, me coming from Belgium, a small country, having a totally different view on the security than a big power.
But, you know, among academics, differences of opinion are creative. They lead to new insights, and when both Daryl and Paul first contacted me to speak at this event, the first thing I — I said was, you know, “Tell me the date, I’ll clear my agenda,” and I’m really very pleased to be here.
Could I have my slides, please?
WALKER: You just have to advance the…
So, in — in my presentation here, I’m going to speak about the road to Geneva, which is about the origins of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Pieter has already mentioned in his presentation.
Let me start with the immediate aftermath of the war and the emergence of the opposition to chemical weapons.
One of the interesting things is if one goes through the various — various documents, the various diaries that soldiers wrote and memories from other people is that there was a big difference, a big distinction between, let’s say, the people who lived near the front lines, the soldiers who fought at the front lines, and the opinion of the people who were staying in country’s locations rather far removed from the areas of the war.
And the interesting element to see, first of all, among the soldiers and the civilians were in the front area, was, of course, they resented chemical warfare. It was something that was insidious, it was something they could not escape, and the consequences were always there. It was something they really had to live with.
At the same time, of course, they were suffering from many different aspects of the war, which — things like sleep deprivation, the mud, the rain, constant shelling and so forth.
In other words, to them, chemical warfare, gas, was like one of the many inconveniences of war. It was not particularly singled out as a particular issue.
And therefore, afterwards, their attitude was also quite — “OK, the war is bad” Chemical warfare was just one aspect of that general opinion.
The other element to look at, particularly in the final year of the war, the final 10 months or so, you will recall in July 1917, mustard gas was introduced on the front. And as a consequence of that, the gas just became ubiquitous. It was not something that depended anymore on weather; it just stayed in the ground. It was always there.
And soldiers — any soldier at the front at that time was, to a certain extent, poisoned by — they had to wear gas masks 48 hours, even longer, in row, particularly if they were in the front lines.
So, attitudes, there was — “OK, it’s very bad, it’s not something we like very much, but, you know, we take it in our stride.”
And the moral opposition, interestingly enough, emerged first in Canada and the United States. And one of the reasons why it was — the people, the civilian population in those countries, were not directly exposed to the consequences of war.
However, the one physical aspect that was very visual to them were casualties that returned to their home countries, veterans that returned. It was their wheezing, their coughing, you know, the permanent consequences of having been exposed to the gas. And in the minds of the people in Canada and the United States, gas became the symbol of the horrors of the First World War in that particular way.
It’s interesting also to see that in the Netherlands, a similar process took place. The Netherlands was neutral, did not take part in any of the combats, and being also quite a religious country, they abhorred the horrors of the trenches, the reports they got. And their images were reinforced by the many Belgians who fled across the border into the Netherlands, and that created a powerful force.
So, just after the war in 1921, then you had the War Resisters’ International Movement that was created in the Netherlands, and their abhorrence of chemical warfare was kind of symbolic to that attitude.
And just to illustrate the complexity of opinion forming that happened, as I’ve mentioned, Belgium, you know, chemical warfare started, the people, particularly in West Flanders, the areas around Ypres but also Ostend where I come from, the memories today are still very strong about what happened 100 years ago.
So, to those people, as I’ve mentioned, gas was one of the aspects of warfare. However, the War Resisters’ International Movement kind of filtered back into Belgium, because they had great influence on socialists, the Communists and the anarchists. And the movement was pretty strong also in Belgium in those days immediately after the war.
It entered consciousness through the whole movement of making Flemish respected language in Belgium. French was then the dominant language. It entered into the Flemish movement, not just because of the revolts that had happened in the trenches, but also because the whole movement of the socialists, who emancipate the labor force and so forth, one of the key goals was to elevate Flemish as a cultural language. And this way, both through the war opposers, religious movements and so on, and through the socialist movements, the anti-war sentiments in Flanders grew, and chemical warfare became very much an element of that.
So, it just goes to show that the whole moral opinion against chemical weapons had different origins and was not perhaps as straightforward as many might think.
The same is happening today, actually, in Syria, where you can see that the strongest reaction against Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons came from Europe, came from the United States. But the people suffering the fighting in Damascus and so on, they really didn’t understand why the international community gave so much prominence to the chemical weapons when they were suffering hundreds, if not thousands of casualties through conventional warfare that remained without reaction. It’s a similar type of process that takes place with totally different perceptions from people living in the battlefield and outwards.
So, if we go then towards the Geneva protocol, today, nonproliferation is a bad word. Many people here take part in discussions on nonproliferation.
But if we go back to the 1920s, the situation was quite different. Actually, what people thought in those days was, well, you know, having chemical weapons was not necessarily bad, however, having a destabilizing capacity, that’s an overwhelming capacity with chemical weapons, that might be destabilizing and lead to war.
And so, the whole principle in those days — you may remember Waltz saying, you know, “Nuclear weapons, the more may be better,” well, that was essentially the idea one had in the 1920s. So, there were already, during the first war, countries that could not produce chemical weapons, they received them from Britain and France, United States being one of them, Belgium too. After the war the French would assist Belgium with a small chemical weapons program, and several other second-tier powers in Europe would also receive a similar type of assistance.
So, the attitude to chemical weapons is quite different than the one that exists today.
Because of that trade and because of the different opinions about the morality of the weapons that existed here in the United States, it was really interesting to see that then when the League of Nations convened to negotiate a ban on the trade in weapons that the American representative proposed also to ban the trade on implements for chemical warfare.
And the point was — that happened when he proposed that, everybody kind of agreed with the idea. The thoughts had moved on that limitations had to be placed on chemical warfare. However, there was a big problem with that proposal, and the negotiators, the diplomats actually discovered what, today, everybody knows as the dual-use problem of technology, because they came to the realization, “Well, you know, these gases that were used on the battlefield, you know, we use them in the industry. And looking back at the history, the origins of these gasses, you know, chlorine has first being isolated as an element at the end of the 18th century.
Phosgene was first synthesized in 1812. Mustard agent was first described in the literature as olefins, had the different name, of course, in those days, but was first described in the scientific literature in the 1860, 1861, and then the mustard that eventually would be used on the battlefield was first synthesized a few decades later.
So, everything that was used on the battlefield had been discovered decades, if not a century earlier than the war.
So the French diplomat, he welcomed the American proposal. But, he said, “Look, we need to define the specific characteristics of what makes a toxic chemical a warfare agent and the compounds that have utility in industry and commerce. So, how do we distinguish between warlike and non-warlike purposes?”
So, some of the top scientists, French, American chemists and so on were set to task to solve that problem.
But the conclusion of the military technical committee was, well, you know, these compounds are not even rare. They’re so ubiquitous in their employment. They are normally manufactured. There’s no way we can distinguish between those elements.
And the consequence of that was that, OK, think of the proliferation, nonproliferation mindset in those days. If a ban were to be put in place on trade, the countries that manufactured those chemicals would have a major strategic advantage over the countries that were dependent on importation of those chemicals.
In other words, one came back to a situation of destabilization. And therefore, the idea could not be accepted.
The result of that was, of course, that people had to find different ways of dealing with it. The Geneva Protocol, because of direct moral imperative, originated from the failure of the original proposal to ban the trade. Because, you know, the moral issue had been put on the table, a diplomatic conference had to address those types of questions.
How to go forward?
Well, the problem of dual use of the chemicals had been described. And over the next years and during the preparation for the big disarmament conference that the League of Nations planned in the 1930s was the general purpose criterion.
And the general purpose criterion is actually a very interesting idea because you don’t ban objects. You don’t ban the toxic chemicals. if we go to the chemical weapons convention, and Ralph, I’m sure, is going to speak about that. You don’t ban the technologies as such. What you do is ban the purpose to which those technologies might be employed.
So, in other words, the whole prohibition that’s emerged from that — the proposal in the British draft of 1933, then later the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972, and the Chemical Weapons Convention of ’93, the core element was you ban the purpose to which a certain technology might be designed.
So, I just put up the text there as an indicator. But you can see the keywords already popping up, “exclusively suited,” “protective,” “therapeutic” — “protective experiments,” “therapeutic research,” “laboratory work.” All of these elements come back. I don’t know why the text is kind of double.
But at the bottom of the page then, actually you will see that the bans are on purpose — my slides will be available for distribution in any case.
So, to come to the conclusion, the Geneva Protocol, you know, it’s just one side of a sheet of paper. That’s the whole length of it. But the document had a very important impact for the future. It laid the foundation for disarmament, and rather than arms control, which is about management of levels of weaponry or nonproliferation policies.
The mere fact that there was an absolute prohibition on the use delegitimized the type of weaponry. And because of that, it pushed it to the margins of military doctrine. In other words, troops began to prepare less and less for their use.
They still retained the weapons, there is no ban on use. It’s not part of the Laws of Arms Control and Disarmament. It’s still part of the laws of war.
But, troops, the military in different countries would prepare for the eventuality that an enemy might first launch chemical weapons, and they had the means to retaliate. There was minimal protective defense against it.
In other words, the type of gas discipline that had evolved during the First World War, and the levels of enforcement that existed in 1918, an individual soldier could be court-martialed for failing in gas discipline. For example, officers, gas officers, were disciplined if units suffered too high causalities, and that it was really enforced rigorously in those days.
Well, that level of gas discipline would never, ever be achieved again by any military formation, big or small.
So, chemical warfare, people were kind of still prepared for it. It was used as a psychological weapon on the eve of the Second World War. You know, threats of bombing cities in the retaliation were not far away.
But it prepared the ground. The weapon became useless a consequence of that.
Now, a comment on the Geneva Protocol is always, yes, it has been violated quite a few times throughout the history. The Geneva Protocol also covers biological weapons. That particular prohibition has never been violated since 1925. In the chemical area, it has been violated a few times, I’ve listed a couple of examples, Italy in the 1930s in Ethiopia, Egypt in the 1960s in the Yemen, Iraq in the 1980s, and so on.
However, the key aspect to bear in mind is it’s not the violation of the treaty, of an international agreement, that signals its weakness, it’s the absence of international reaction to such a violation that signals the weakness of an agreement.
And the consequences of Italy in the 1930s, the fact that the League of Nations was not in a position to react, the fact that the international community let Egypt go with the attacks in the Yemen in the 1960s, it means that we’re still dealing with problems of chemical warfare in the Middle East. It gave a kind of legitimacy to that means of warfare.
And Iraq, of course, the support that Western states have given to the Iraqi regime against Iran, we’re also still dealing with those problems.
However, in many of the instances, the international community after the end of the conflict, came together to restore the authority of the Geneva Protocol.
And one of the best outcomes, if we could call it that, of the Iran-Iraq war, was, of course, that the meeting in 1989 in Paris, convened by France, brought all the states together and gave a major impetus to the completion of the negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which today is, of course, the central norm.
And with Syria, we have literally seen what its impact is. In my memory, which is not as long as 1925, of course, but in my recollections, you know, Syria must be the first country that gassed itself into disarmament.
Thank you very much.
WALKER: Thank you very much, Jean Pascal.
And now we’ll turn to Dr. Ralf Trapp.
TRAPP: Good morning everybody. If I could just press the right arrow — also, going the wrong way. There you go. This must delay — this was for Jean Pascal.
OK. Again, good morning everybody, and I also, first of all, should like to thank very much of the organizers, the Arms Control Association and particularly Paul and Daryl for inviting me to this meeting.
I’ve known Jonathan at the time when he was working for the U.S. government in the prep. comm. in the Hague. And I would stand, sitting on the other side, on the secretariat side. So we had a couple of interesting exchanges about how you verify an industry and how you deal with the inspection procedures in principle. That was before he had his own experience with conducting inspections in Iraq.
And the last association I had with him was actually when he was running a project and preparing a book on innovation in the — bio area, on biosecurity, which was a very interesting project and still I think contains an awful lot of material of thought and of insight that I think will be important in the future in dealing with these things.
Now I’m going to talk about negotiations and a little bit also about CWC implementation and some challenges ahead. I should have been slightly more innovative and called this, really “the road to Geneva II and then back to the Hague,” because that’s really what I’m going to talk about.
And let’s start where Jean Pascal more or less ended, with the Geneva Protocol of 1925. And here is some of the text used in the protocol.
It’s important to realize that it really was something that in one sense was norm building, norm forming, but it also built on an existing norm. It reached back to the Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907, and, in fact, further than that.
The prohibition of the use of toxic materials, of poison, in war is a very old prohibition. And what the Geneva Protocol does really was recall this, extend it and cement it in our consciousness, but also legally.
But, of course, this being a protocol about the conduct of war, or in this context, and at the same time being a protocol about humanitarian principles, it couldn’t really resolve the problem of the possession of chemical weapons. It could not prevent the reemergence and the future uses of chemical weapons, despite all the limitations that Jean Pascal has already pointed out.
So, there were attempts early on to move on from just a prohibition of the use of chemical weapons to a much broader concept of disarmament in this particular area. Negotiations took place in the League of Nations, they failed. Jean Pascal talked already about that.
And then we had negotiations after the Second World War. in Geneva, in what is today called the Conference on Disarmament. It changed names several times, I don’t need to go into this. Until finally, in 1992, after some considerable period of time, it depends on when you start counting. Some people start counting in 1972, which is when basically the biological and chemical weapons issues were separated. Others would start counting in the beginning of the 1980s, which is when we first had actual work on a treaty text or at least the context of a — concept of a treaty.
So, that’s a matter of taste, I would say. But it took quite some time to get to this point. And what you realize in the process is that the issues they’re dealing with when you talk about disarmament are different from the issues of just regulating behavior and law.
The first one is essentially a political decision, a declamatory act, and something that you write into the law. The second one has to also do with implementation and with the making sure that people stick to their commitment. In other words, you need something like verification, some form of international exchange that assures that, in fact, treaties are complied with.
And so, some of the issues that needed to be resolved in this context are here. The question, is this just about the big one? Is it just about — I think back at the times of the Cold War when this all happened, about the chemical weapons stockpiles in the two alliances and — predominantly the American and the Russian or Soviet stockpiles? Or is it a different issue altogether? Is it about a global ban, a global treaty? Is it in terms to have a comprehensive ban? And what does that actually mean?
We showed already a little bit about the general purpose criterion, in the fact that there are toxic chemicals all around us in society. We’re producing them in large quantities in industry.
So what’s — what are we doing? Are we going to ban toxic chemicals? We can’t do that.
So, how comprehensive can we make this then? Can we make it comprehensive?
And when I started in this business in 1978, there were bilateral talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union about a limited treaty banning just nerve agents and mustard gas, or blister agents, as a first step towards a more comprehensive treaty.
Now, this failed in the end, but there were people at the time who said, “Why on Earth are you joining this kind of business? It’s going to be over in two years time.” And we had a treaty, and that was the end of that. It didn’t turn out that way, and I think for good reasons.
And then, of course, I already mentioned the question of verification. One of the things one needs to discuss in this context is how verification will be done, and how reliable and robust it has to be.
So, what I’m going to give you next are a couple of a little snapshots from how this moved forward. And what I’ve done is essentially just took some excerpts from a number of (inaudible) yearbooks, in sequence. This is 1980, in other words, it reflects on 1979 and before, and it reflects on the joint initiative that was agreed between the Soviet Union and the United States, to move forwards towards a joint initiative to ban chemical weapons on a global scale.
And a couple of things that I wanted to flag in this context are important. First of all, this is the end of the ’70s. We’re moving into the time when the Cold War actually intensified in the — in the 1980s. So we still have here a climate of trying to find some sort of general agreement and accommodations, some joint approach towards resolving this and other issues.
We also realized already then that, in fact, what we need is a comprehensive treaty. We cannot actually try and find a solution that just deals with some of the aspects, but exclude others, both in geographical terms and in terms of what is actually being prohibited. Where do we start? Development, production, stockpiling, use, whatever else?
And the other thing, that already was mentioned by Jean Pascal, this general purpose criterion. One of the outcomes of the bilateral talks between the Americans and the Russians at the time was they again were tasked to come up with some kind of a set of criteria that would enable us to distinguish between the toxic chemicals that we need to prohibit and those that we can leave in society and we don’t have to worry about it.
And they came back and said, “Well, actually, we can’t. There is no way pull that line. That line does not exist. No matter where you draw it, there will then be possibilities to circumvent a treaty, an agreement, and to come up with another form of chemical warfare.”
So, we’re falling back to the general purpose criterion, which is something that lawyers don’t like. If you talk to lawyers about it, they usually have a problem with it. Because what you’re doing is something very against the grain, you’re prohibiting everything. Every toxic chemical is a chemical weapon. And then comes your escape clause that says, unless — unless you have it there for a legitimate purpose, and then you list those purposes.
Now, that makes perfect sense, it’s logical, et cetera. How on Earth do we enforce that?
Which is why we have the lists in the Chemical Weapons Convention in which we still today have a dispute between people who think the lists are the ones who drive the treaty and ones who say, “No, no, no. It’s the general purpose criterion that drives the treaty.”
This is there, and this will stay with us forever. And that is why it is important to again and again repeat that the basis of this treaty — the basis of the legal prohibition is the general purpose criterion, not the lists. It’s very difficult to make people understand that.
And then, not much happened for quite some time in the negotiations. I mean, a lot happened in terms of activity, but we didn’t really have any particular breakthroughs.
Again, this was the time, the height of the Cold War. In the U.S., we moved into the binary production program. In the Soviet Union, we move into development of Novichoks and the expansion of the production program of the traditional chemical warfare agents.
And we see some development, some movement, sort of, in the core area, some agreements are actually prepared during those years between Russia — or the Soviet Union and the U.S.
And at the same time, we have a multilateral context in the C.D., where things move forward. But we needed a fundamental change in certain areas. We needed something that actually changed some of the underlying principles.
And that happened around about 1987. It came along with Glasnost and the Perestroika in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. And one of the first indicators that something was changing was then in ’87, the Soviet Union actually acknowledged in public for the first time for a long period of time that they had chemical weapons.
I mean, when I started working in this field, it wasn’t talked about. I was on the East German side. Yes, we presumed the Soviets had chemical weapons. We had absolutely no idea how much, where they were, what the purpose was, et cetera, et cetera. This was a well-known but well-kept secret.
We then at the same time had an invitation by the Soviet government to a visit in Shikany, which is their military facility for the development of chemical weapons. It dates back to the 1920s in fact, and joint work with the Germans.
And, finally, around about the same time, the Soviet Union accepted the principle of a mandatory onsite inspection unchallenged. And that really was a game changer. That really opened up the doors for moving on a lot of verification issues. To some extent, people said it was calling a bluff, but I think it was actually also a genuine move in terms of new thinking, new concept.
And from there on, things started moving very fast. We had the Paris conference, Jean Pascal already mentioned that. The initial idea came from President Reagan, but then it was very, very quickly supported by a whole range of different top officials — prime ministers, foreign ministers, and so on.
And it was important to have this political impetus to move from — now, we have an opportunity. The Soviets have accepted some of the basic principles that they hadn’t accepted for a long time. Let’s move forward. Let’s do something (inaudible) and let’s make sure that we actually get a treaty.
So this was really the beginning of the whole exercise. Without, I think, without the Paris conference, it would have been much more difficult to have that high-level political attention to the process. And one of the problems with each negotiation is if you don’t have that attention at that level, things can get very complicated and very muddy and not move anyway.
But we also have some very practical stuff. We had, for example, a decision in the C.D. in Geneva to start (inaudible) inspections. Let’s try and see how it actually works if you do verification in the chemical industry.
One year later, in fact in the same year, but reported one year later, we had the Canberra conference. Now, the chemical industry had already been involved in discussions about the Chemical Weapons Convention since the middle of 1980s. The industry had realized, (A), the treaty might actually come, and if it comes we need to be on board and prepared for it, but also we have a stake here. We want to be sure that whatever comes as a treaty is something we can live with.
Canberra then put this, within the industry, on a higher level. We got to support from really the top echelon in the chemical industry worldwide and a formal announcement — formal pronouncement by the chemical industry to support the Chemical Weapons Convention and to support the negotiation process in Geneva. And in fact, that’s what they did after.
So here’s the end-point of these negotiations. This is from the statement of — from Wagner , who was the chairman of the (inaudible) committee at the time that finalized negotiations on the treaty. And he summarizes from his perspective what were the key elements that made it possible to agree to the treaty and to move it forward to the United Nations: it’s (inaudible) of scope; it’s safeguards against system failure, regime failure; it’s clear and unambiguous provisions on destruction, and that includes verification by the way; its balance with regard to the political organs and the political decision-making processes in the organization; the verification package, which is both industry verification and it’s also verification by inspection, by (inaudible) inspection of compliance concerns; and then finally, the evolutionary concept for (inaudible) development (inaudible) — basically, the positive spin-off of a treaty of that nature for everybody involved.
So this is where we are today. And this is just taken from the OPCW (inaudible). I’m not going to talk you through it. But we have made some significant progress. We have an almost unilateral treaty. We have destroyed almost 85 percent of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles. We’ve done more than 5,500 inspections worldwide, many of them in industry. We have about 5,000 declared facilities in the chemical industry that are subject to and liable to inspection. And partly as a result of all this work dome since 1997, the OPCW has, as you know, received the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
But there are still some question marks here and some problems that we need to think about. We have, again, everybody knows, significant delays in the completion of the stockpile elimination. We had one case of a non-declared stockpile component in Libya which has been resolved. But again, it’s something that needs to be thought about.
We still have a couple of countries outside, and they’re listed here. It’s not a large number, but all of them are quite significant with respect to a global ban on chemical weapons. You’ve got Egypt there. It was mentioned already. You’ve got Israel. They had a program in the ’50s and early ’60s maybe. You’ve got North Korea, which surely has a program today.
And then, of course, we have within the institution itself, at least two aspects that I’d like to flag which make me a little bit concerned. One is the reluctance — and this is a mild way of putting it — to adopting (inaudible) verification system to advances in science, technology and in the chemical industry itself.
There’s an awful lot of reluctance to change things, to change — not just to change the legal context, but in particular to change how things are done on the ground. It’s a very difficult process. The thinking in Geneva was to have a system that is adaptable, that is flexible, that can be adjusted to whatever happens in the real world.
The practice is once (inaudible) the treaty, nobody wants to touch it. And yes, through a (inaudible) so, I can see where this is coming from, but in practical implementation (inaudible), this creates a problem. And the challenge inspection has not been used, again, a question of why are we not using some of the mechanisms of the treaty that deal with compliance concerns if there are genuine compliance concerns, and we are told there are.
Then came Syria. And I’m not going to talk about Syria because somebody else is going to talk about it. But I was just wanted to flag a few things. First of all, I think something in the (inaudible) has changed a little bit with Syria. We have to think about has our perception of the utility of chemical weapons actually changed with a very toxic chemicals that were used in the Syrian conflict. I’m not saying it was. I’m saying one needs to think about that.
Do we have an impact on the threshold for use? I actually see sort of a reduction in the threshold and in the psychological threshold against the use of chemical weapons. What looked like a very strong norm seems to be slightly weakened, not in legal terms. In legal terms, the opposite has happened. We had a very strong political and legal reaction against the use; categorical statements which (inaudible), when we wrote our commentary on the Chemical Weapons Convention to conclude that the universal law — I’ll think of the term (inaudible). Sorry. Anyway, that the prohibition is much stronger than it was in the past.
And then, of course, the whole question of disarmament and verification in times of war. I mean, five years ago, people would have said you cannot disarm during armed conflict and you certainly cannot verify disarmament during armed conflict. Well, we’ve just done that or the OPCW has done that.
So, a few things have changed quite significantly. (inaudible) about the adaptation of a number of principles and things, including those that were written into the convention, they have to be adjusted so they would actually work under those circumstances. And the OPCW showed it was prepared and able to do that.
So, here are some of my last words on the challenges ahead. And one is maintaining the competence and capacity to deal with another Syria. Sorry for the word, but there are still some countries out there which may join the Chemical Weapons Convention under very strange circumstances. We need to be able — we need to be sure that the organization can actually deal with it.
It was a hard way this time around and the organization is not getting stronger at this point in time. So it’s important that we think about how can we maintain this capability and this both mental and physical capacity to do these things.
Complacency in the way we interpret the treaty — I’m just mentioning here two things: in capacitance in (inaudible) agents, where we see developments that could potentially undermine the regime. The question of maintaining credibility of the regime despite the delays that we have seen in the completion of destruction.
Also the transformation of the system from something that’s essentially disarmament or achieving disarmament, to something that maintains disarmament and prevents new acquisition of chemical weapons. This calls for different approaches, different ways of thinking.
And then finally, the adaptation of the implementation process to advances in science, technology and so on, and the embedding of the Chemical Weapons Convention implementation processes into the broader world. And some people call this chemical security; other people call it something else. But for me, this is basically an indication that we need to go beyond the narrow world that we have in The Hague.
WALKER: So you’ve all seen that we’ve moved through 100 years in about 45 minutes. But I want to thank all three colleagues and panelists here for really doing an excellent job. I know you all can recognize the sort of widespread expertise and depth of knowledge that we have on this panel. So, thank you all for coming across the big pond and providing us some really insightful, I think, historical remarks.
I’ll take questions. We have about 25 minutes. So I think all the panelists have actually done well in holding to their limit. And let me just pose the first question, but when you do, I’ll try to recognize everybody around the tables, just please identify yourself before you ask a question. I ask people, too, to keep their remarks or questions very brief if possible.
My first question is to you, Pieter, and that is, there was such horror in, you know, 1915 when chemical weapons were first used. And you said it all came as really a complete surprise, like, to the British and the French and others defending in the trench warfare.
And I’m wondering why — why did it come as such a surprise when there had been, you know, a couple of decades of discussion about the horrors of gas warfare? And did the troops actually have masks at that point? Or what — how did they actually defend themselves?
TROGH: Can I answer that?
WALKER: Yes. I think we’ll all stay at the table. Yeah. Please stay at the table. Yeah.
TROGH: Well, the warring parties were already experimenting with unconventional weapons like poisonous gas. So, there were experiments with tear gas back in 1914, early 1915, and particularly for the Ypres front, there were already some signs that of what was coming.
So, in early April, deserters or prisoners of war, German prisoners of war were interrogated, and they talked about the installation of gas cylinders along the front. But it was always neglected by the officers, by the army command actually. So they didn’t take any measurement to protect their troops. And they also had — well, they thought that — that it wouldn’t be large-scale or something.
So, the troops — the French troops did not have any mask, any gas mask or any means of protection on the 22nd April of 1915. But when the attack had taken place, then, of course, they had to react. And they — first, there were instructions — stay where you are and it will come over. Didn’t work. And then there were instructions like they had some cotton…
WALKER: Cotton balls sort of…
TROGH: … balls, bats , yeah, and they were advised to urinate on it, so to neutralize the effect of chlorine. And the first masks arrived. And as we — as I’ve pointed out, May 1915, but they weren’t very effective actually.
And then afterwards, well, they started, which was priority for the allied forces to develop measures of protection; several types of gas masks. On the other hand, of course, the Germans were searching for other agents to use, and it was always a game of action-reaction then. But the first gas attack came actually as a surprise as there were no — there was no protection and no party had ever seen the use of such a large-scale dischargement of gas.
TROGH: … in that way, it was a surprise.
WALKER: Yeah. I think — I mean, imagining, you know, you said close to 6,000 canisters of chlorine gas, you know, released across the trenches, you can imagine the mile, you know, the kilometers or the miles of clouds that — and chlorine is heavier than air.
WALKER: So it sinks. And if you stay in the trenches, of course, it sinks into the trenches. You just swim in chlorine, you know, it becomes very difficult to survive in trench…
TROGH: Yeah. And also…
WALKER: … warfare that time.
TROGH: Psychologically, for those who experienced the first gas attack, they didn’t know what was coming at them and I think it’s like a wave — like a tsunami wave of 10 meters.
WALKER: Panic — probably panic setting in, you know.
TROGH: Yeah, indeed.
WALKER: OK. Let’s move to questions from the audience.
First hand I see right here. Yes? Yes sir?
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Peter Smallwood , University of Richmond. I think my question might go to Zanders, but whoever might be able. It’s kind of historical. The aftermath of World War I, there was a, revulsion about chemical weapons and in negotiations for agreements, they started to lump in bacteriological weapons.
We have both chemical and biological weapons language coming down to us to this day. But back in the aftermath of World War I, they frequently lumped in incendiaries with that list. And I’m curious as to when incendiaries sort of got dropped off and became acceptable and how that happened.
WALKER: Jean Pascal. Yeah.
ZANDERS: Thank you for that question. It’s historically an interesting one and a question that also pops up in the context of disarmament in the Middle East, where white phosphorous is often considered to be a chemical weapon, whereas under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, it’s outside.
And the — incendiaries were very much a part of the warfare during the First World War. There were major attacks with flamethrowers, but white phosphorus and similar products were also used and primarily because the strengthening of the trenches were made in wood to avoid the walls from collapsing in. So the use of incendiary devices would actually put fire to those wooden constructions.
One of the reasons why incendiaries were in those days very much associated with chemical weapons is that, just like chemical weapons, these were special forces that employed them. So the chemical troops would also be the ones that were responsible for using flame and other incendiary devices, smoke also were very much.
So, if one looks through the history of chemical warfare and, how shall I say, the ways the armies of different countries at different times organized themselves, you will see that around the core concept of chemical weapon, there is — that’s a gray area, where you have incendiaries, you have smoke, and so on.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, as such, had to demarcate the issue of its own control and verification very clearly. So anything that was kind of on the edges of a definition of a chemical weapon, I think it was Jack Umbs , a Dutch negotiator and expert, who once said, everybody knows what a chemical weapon is, but nobody can define it.
And that was essentially the problem, the conceptions do vary of the chemical weapons. But it is clear that from, say, the very early 1920s, with the negotiations at the 1922 Washington conference, the naval conference, one of the agreements of that meeting was on the prohibition on submarines and noxious gases. How they mixed submarines and the gases is still a puzzle to me. But essentially it was the area where chemical weapons kind of were limited to toxic gases, asphyxiating and other deleterious gases. So there is also the history that goes back to the Hague Declaration 42, so I think that continued.
The same thing happened during the Vietnam War, for example, where, on the one hand, Agent Orange, that was, you know, it’s use was developed outside of the Chemical Corps in the United States. Tear gas and flame were developed by the Chemical Corps, both during the Second World War, the Vietnam War.
So you can see how things could move depending on circumstances and time.
But it was excluded if we can put it that, perhaps not consciously but definitely it got excluded. And today, incendiary weapons are banned under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in one of the protocols. But, of course, it’s one of the lesser known treaties on the limitations of weapons in war.
WALKER: OK. Other comments, questions and — yes? In the middle here.
QUESTION: My name’s Dennis Nelson from SERV And I’d like to ask two questions.
One, what happened to the German facilities at Dyn Herrnffurt, CW facilities? I think it eventually ended up in East Germany, but I’m not positive. What happened to all of that stockpile?
And the other question is, what has happened about the incident, and I think it was in Bari, Italy, where an American ship containing nitrogen mustard was attacked by German sappers and the clouds of nitrogen mustard went over the city? And this is all in the Second World War.
WALKER: And your question is to any panelist? Probably…
WALKER: .. Zanders and Trapp, or Trapp and Zanders? OK. Who wants to take the first swipe at that? Ralf?
TRAPP: The first one, to the German facilities, particularly the one, the nerve agent facility in Lunenburg . My understanding is that that was dismantled at the end of the war and then transferred to Russia, and then reconfigurated in Russia and in fact used as a testing/pilot facility in the Russian CW program.
And so, what happened basically after the war is that, depending on the way in which the Allied forces in the west got into Germany and then the Russian army on the east, a lot of the hardware ended up in Russian hands and a lot of the brains ended up, because there’s — sorry, German scientist tended to trust slightly more the Western allies in terms of who took them over after the war, so many of the researchers from different types of military programs, including the chemical one, ended up in the States or in other Western countries.
So — and the stockpile was partly destroyed and partly also taken over. The nerve agent components were taken over by whoever got their hands on them, as far as I know.
On the Bari incident, I think — well, I’m not quite sure how one can describe what happened afterwards. What happened in the incident itself was essentially that a large amount of mustard agent was spilled into the port facility, the sea, into the harbor off Bari. And because of the secrecy surrounding the fact that there was actually mustard gas on that ship, a lot of people got injured simply because there was also — it was an area attacked, so there were flames, there were ships on fire, and people were essentially jumping into the water to try and get away from the flames. And they were diving in to meet mustard agent.
And because nobody knew what was going on, the medical facilities, hospitals and so on, in the city of Bari, doctors had no clue what they — what the victims were they got. Initially, they were treating them for burn injuries. And it took a while to realize that, in fact, this was not a simple burning, this was in fact an injury from mustard gas.
Whether it had any larger ramifications beyond what happened in Bari itself, I don’t really know. But it’s one of the incidents that’s quoted quite often as an example, in one sense of the degree of secrecy that surrounds chemical weapons and the preparations for chemical warfare, the logistics that come with it, the attempts to keep it, even keeping information even away from those you would need, if something goes wrong, like your hospitals and your medical doctors. In that case, simply because it was a highly secret operation in the first place. And the pitfalls that come with that sort of approach. That all (inaudible).
(UNKNOWN): Yeah. I mean, what happened in Bari, the fact that an American ship had the stockpile, was part of, you know, a deterrence, having a retaliatory capacity.
There were many statements coming from Roosevelt and Churchill warning the Axis powers not to engage in chemical warfare. Obviously, the idea was one had to be prepared just in case it happened.
The same as with D-Day, the landings on D-Day, that the troops were inoculated against certain types of biological weapons. They had protective gears against chemical weapons. When it didn’t materialize, of course, then the whole thing relaxed a lot.
But the Allies during the various landings, military operations in Europe were quite prepared for the possibility of chemical and even biological warfare.
(UNKNOWN): Pieter, did you want to add anything or?
(UNKNOWN): That’s a bit — no? OK. I saw another couple of hands, one here and then I’ll come back over here. Yes?
QUESTION: Good morning. I’m Jerry Epstein at the Department of Homeland Security.
Ralf, I wanted to ask if you could add a couple words on the strikingly different view that industry took in the chemical weapons’ talks than they did in the biological weapons verification, where it seemed not being associated with the stigma was the most important thing they said they were worried about. And I wonder if you could talk about that, as supposed to being part of the solution.
TRAPP: Yeah. You have to — again, you have to go back into the time of when these things happened. When we negotiated the Chemical Convention in the 1980s, this was also the time that — OK, the Vietnam War had already been mentioned. Chemical industry had a bad reputation. It had a reputation, A, of having supplied Agent Orange for the Vietnam War, but it also had a reputation in terms of polluting the environment, of being a problem to society.
And so, the chemical industry leadership was desperate to find ways and means of assuring the public that they are, in fact, the good guys, that they are not part of this program.
And one of the things, for example, that sent an important signal at the beginning of 1980s, when the U.S. moved forward with the production of binary weapons, essentially commercial companies in the U.S. turned down the request by the Department of the Army to supply the materials for that.
The Army had to actually manufacture these things in their own facilities, they couldn’t purchase the precursor materials from commercial companies, because it was seen as something that was damaging for business.
And so, the industry became concerned about its own image but also concerned about the implications of a Chemical Weapons Convention around about the middle of the ’80s, when discussions started.
At that point in time, still fairly general about verification in industry. And it was, I think, a very important strategic decision for the chemical industry, both at the national level and at the level of international associations to get involved in these talks, and to make sure that they understood what was coming there, but also they had a say in the process and they could actually influence the outcome of these negotiations.
So we had first industry working parties being developed in the — around 1985, 1986. We had industry conferences on the issue. And then initially a very informal feedback mechanism between the industry and the negotiators in Geneva. They would have a briefing once a year or twice a year. They would be informed about what had happened in the negotiations. They would put on their own views, and, in fact, eventually started putting out decision — sorry, position papers.
And, towards the end of the negotiations, in fact, some of the industry people became embedded in the negotiation process. I mean the German delegation had at times two or three people from chemical industry as part of the delegation sitting in Geneva in the CD during the negotiations.
The U.S. took a slightly different approach, but there were briefings back here in Washington, where the industry working group on chemical weapons, would talk to the government, State Department, and would make sure that the negotiators understood the perspective of industry, the concerns, and also saw where, from an industry perspective, some of the possible solutions were.
That continued into the phase after the entry into force — sorry after the completion of the negotiations. And industry supported the process in the prep com in the Hague with expertise, with people, and eventually, at the end, as we prepared for the entry into force of the convention itself, we had a number of chemical companies from a range of countries that were prepared to support our inspector training.
So our inspectors, the first batch of inspectors of the OPCW, was, in fact, trained by chemical industry for inspections in the chemical industry.
What you saw was essentially a symbiosis between the industry that had its concerns, but also was prepared to contribute to the process, and the negotiators that were trying to develop something that actually was implementable at the end of the process.
I think in the biological field, a lot of things went very wrong very early on, partly because they become mixed up with the bilateral process between the Soviet Union on the one side, and the U.K. and the U.S. on the other side, in trying to use fact-finding missions in industry to alleviate some of the concerns that actually addressed the Soviet bioweapons program, but you couldn’t actually go there and visit these facilities unless you found a way of making it palatable for the Soviets. And part of that was to have inspectors also in Western pharma companies, and a number of things didn’t go very nicely, shall we say.
So the perceptions that we had in the bio industry at this point of time is that these inspections don’t work. They’re bad. They are something we can’t really accept. They’re harassing us.
At the same time I think the mentality in the industry is different. And the bio industry still today is an industry that sees itself as something very positive — we’re making medicines, we’re making things that are good for human kind. They’re there to treat people who have diseases and things like that.
They don’t have the image that the chemical industry had in the 1980s, which was clearly a problem for the industry. The pharma industry doesn’t have that, or, shall we say, it doesn’t have it as yet? In some areas we may see trends in this direction.
So the interest in the industry itself is not that strong. It’s still a passive, sort of, we’re trying to prevent things to happen to us that we don’t like or we don’t understand, but at the same time the engagement is different and not as strong as we saw it in the chemical industry.
However, I think things are changing there, so I’m probably optimistic.
(UNKNOWN): You might — I mean we might point out too that the major chemical accident in India, in Bhopal, you may recall, happened, I think, in 1986, was it? ’83, ’86? It’s in the mid-80s sometime in which…
(UNKNOWN): ’84, in which…
(UNKNOWN): All right, well, we’ll figure that out.
There was another — thank you, Ralf — there was another hand up right here in the front table. Yeah.
QUESTION: Thank you. Heim Kaine , from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
The question is, it can be either both to Ralf and Jean Pascal, and I will ask about where are you practically ended your talks, with Syria and the Chemical Weapons Convention today.
Both of you emphasized the general purpose criterion. And, obviously, Syria has continued to use the chlorine. So, the question where does it put us with, related to Syria, compliance with their CWC commitment? And also what the OPCW or the CWC can do with — related to such uses?
WALKER: Chlorine and Syria, who wants to — who wants to — we’ll have further discussions on this too.
WALKER: And I’m sure, throughout the day. but yeah?
ZANDERS: No, I think the GPC which Ralf and I kind of emphasized in our presentations is absolutely critical to the relevancy of the convention to a variety of circumstances.
First, because the default position is prohibition of application of toxic chemicals. And in the Chemical Weapons Convention, in Article 2, a number of purposes that are not prohibited, and I emphasized in the negative formulation in the CWC, indicates that there are certain uses that are acceptable, but the default position is a prohibition.
The second major advantage of the GPC is it’s not specific to certain chemicals. Ralf has made the clear distinction between the three schedules, the three lists of chemicals which are useful to organize verification in the industry and a number of facilities, but they are not what defines the prohibition.
The advantage of that is — of that lack of specificity is that any future toxic chemical is also prohibited by the convention. Any type of industrial toxic chemical that might be used in an opportunistic way as a chemical weapon is prohibited. So, when the Serbs were targeting train wagons filled with a chlorine over Sarajevo, with the purpose of having the cloud descend, that would have been a major violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
So, coming to chlorine, what has happened, was, first, because of the general purpose criterion, the OPCW was able to launch an investigation into the allegations. And in two reports, it has basically confirmed the use of the chlorine. If you read both reports closely together, you basically can deduce who is responsible for those attacks.
In immediate, practical terms, there is not a very visible reaction. A large number of states parties have issued a declaration condemning the use of chemical weapons. But the problem in disarmament and any verification system is that, you know, you can have the best designed system, in the end, the determination of compliance or violation is a political decision. And if you have one country or several countries opposing a clear determination of, you know, compliance or violation, then, of course, you run into certain problems.
Having said that, the possibility always exists if there is some sort of an international tribunal that’s going to deal with the war crimes in Syria, both the United Nations investigation and the OPCW investigation of chlorine, if decisions are taken, these reports, all the backup documents, can be supplied to that court in order to determine culpability.
WALKER: Ralf or Pieter, do you want to add anything to that at all? No?
(UNKNOWN): There’s not much to add, just to reinforce what Jean Pascal said. I mean, we have to make a very clear statement here that the use of chlorine in armed conflict is the use of a poison gas, of a chemical weapon, and that’s prohibited, full stop. There’s no argument about that.
And, hence, its use as it — if it happens in a country like Syria, which is member of the CWC, it’s a violation of the treaty.
How you deal with noncompliance of treaty provisions is a separate and quite interesting question. And a lot of other issues come into it, including the circumstances and the possibility of being or not being able to enforce the law at a certain point in time.
I’d like to just piggy back on what Jean Pascal just said, we tend to have a focus on either the OPCW or, in the case if the use investigation in Syria, the U.N. secretary general’s mechanism, which involve the OPCW as well and WHO.
But there is also a Commission on the Human Rights Council that deals with Syria, the commission — an independent commission of inquiry, which, of course, was set up with respect to human rights violations in the use of chemical weapons or any type of prohibited weapon is also a human rights violation.
So, there are other mechanisms set that may in the future lead to attribution and then to consequences. It may even happen within the context of the Security Council, a context where at this point in time, it doesn’t look like anybody is pushing for it, for whatever reasons.
And that just reinforces that it’s not about verification. Verification is really only one step. What matters is what I do once I know what happened and how I deal with these — with these facts.
And that is also is important for how strong the regime will be in the future. But I see states reacting to it, or whether I see essentially an attempt to ignore it and to go on to other business, and I hope the latter is not going to happen.
WALKER: OK, thank you all very much. And we have a few more hands up but I think you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions really throughout the day. We have a really wonderful group of panelists and speakers coming later in the day.
We’re going to take a coffee break now. We’ll reconvene at 11 a.m. sharp and Daryl Kimball will moderate that panel.
I’d point out, too, that all these PowerPoint presentations, as well as the transcript, I believe, for the whole day will be available on the Arms Control Association website. So you can get all the PowerPoints and all the information and data later on as well.
So thank you very much for your attention.
KIMBALL: All right. Welcome back, everyone.
For those of you who came in after the start, I’m Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. And I want to thank the previous panel. It was a masterful job covering a great deal of material. And I think all of us learned something from that first panel.
And now we’re going to move on to a more focused discussion of one of the issues that came up earlier, which is the experience of the chemical weapons use in Syria and the efforts to eliminate Syria’s stockpile. And I think we have to say that over the last 18 months of that period, there were three incredible events. And by “incredible,” I really — I think that the word “incredible” applies here — incredible events in the field of chemical weapons international security.
First, what many feared could happen and hoped would not happen happens. After 100 years since the use of chlorine on the battlefields of Europe, we saw the large-scale use of sarin gas in the suburbs outside Damascus, even as U.N. inspectors were in the country to investigate allegations of earlier chemical weapons use.
We’ve got to remember that hundreds of defenseless people were injured or died gruesome deaths, adding to the already horrible toll of that civil war which rages on and on.
The second incredible event was that within weeks after that event, after widespread international condemnation, the U.S. and Russia and other countries succeeded in compelling President Bashar al-Assad to agree to an ambitious plan to join the CWC, declare his chemical stockpile and allow for their rapid verification and destruction.
And third, the third incredible event was that this operation went forward quickly more or less according to schedule. And we’ll know more about this — to do something that many thought could not be done in the middle of the war; the technically challenging, politically complex job and hazardous job of removing more than 1,300 tons of prohibited agent and weapons, destroying the mixing and production equipment, all in the midst of the war.
So, in my own view, today we can’t say that all 100 percent of that arsenal has been destroyed, but the vast bulk has. And it’s true, probably true that Syria still has a residual CW capability. And there are ongoing attacks by Syria using chlorine as a weapon. But the threat of another major attack involving sarin or mustards is all but gone due to the unprecedented effort that we’ll hear about in this section.
And so we’ve got three more great guests to describe this part of the story this morning. We’re pleased and honored to have with us Mr. Dominique Anelli, who’s with us also from across the pond. He served as the head of the Chemical Demilitarization Branch of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from — since 2007. And before that, he was a military adviser to the permanent French delegation at the OPCW.
And also back with us is Paul Walker, who, among other things, I should mention, is the chief coordinator, the pointy end of the spear, so to speak, with the Chemical Weapons Coalition, which is a global NGO network dedicated to the implementation of the CWC in an effective environmentally responsible manner. And he’s going to be revealing what he sees as some of the lessons identified with the Syria CW mission.
And we’re also very happy and honored to have with us, in place of Andy Weber, our colleague Simon Limage, who’s deputy assistant secretary from nonproliferation programs in the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. I’m amazed that I can fit on a business card somewhere.
He is responsible for supervising the State Department’s nonproliferation programs and efforts to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He was deeply involved in a behind-the-scenes role, but very important day-to-day work in support of the State Department’s efforts on the Syria CW mission.
And he’s graciously — and on short notice — agreed to join this panel after we learned late last evening that Andy Weber, who was scheduled to be in the program and who’s currently the deputy director for the State Department Ebola Coordination Unit, was called in for a meeting at this particular time — I don’t think I’m breaking any news here — to have a meeting on that subject with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
So, that’s probably the best excuse I’ve ever heard for not being able to show up at one of my events. I’ll expect something along those lines if anybody wants to cancel out on me again.
So, Simon is going to be describing some of the nuts and bolts work, the technical diplomatic work that contributed to the U.S. role with the Syrian CW removal operation, which, as I think we’ll hear, began even before the August 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus in — in Ghouta.
So, I welcome you all hear, and in particular, Mr. Anelli, for coming all this way. Thank you very much for being with us.
ANELLI: Merci beaucoup. Merci, chaque colleagues.
Sorry for my accent, but as you can see I’m French.
More seriously, thanks to the organizer to — to have the opportunity to take the floor this morning.
I knew Jonathan when he applied to OPCW as a police officer. This shows one more — his commitment to the disarmament.
In a couple of slide now, I will try to present to you the works and the progress the OPCW carried out regarding the chemical weapons disarmament in Syria.
Let me start with the U.N. investigation of chemical weapon used in Syria, and other U.N. secretary mechanism, so — U.N. secretary general mechanism, a U.N. team including an OPCW component led by Professor Sellstrom, who arrived in Damascus in August 2013 and investigated the sites of alleged chemical attack.
The U.N. team took samples, interviewed witnesses and examined munitions and after a detailed investigation, submitted a report in September 2013, which concluded that, I quote, “The chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.”
We did not have any mandate to investigate who did the attack. You understand that that was very politically sensitive.
And OPCW-U.N. joint team was created pursuant to (inaudible) decision and pursuant also to the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2018 in September 2013. It has been decided at this time to have the mission in Syria organized around two pillars. The verification activities carried out by the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, and the support activities provided by the U.N. part of the Joint Mission.
So, two entities and both of them cooperating in order to achieve the work on field.
On 14 September 2013, under the pressure of the international community, Syria acceded to the treaty. Five days later, with the support of the Technical Secretariat, and that was in Damascus to help Syria to submit an initial disclosure.
Then after (inaudible) force on 14 October, Syria submitted its initial declaration 20 days in advance vis-a-vis of the treaty obligation, because when you — when the treaty enter into force for a third party, specific third party, 30 days after you have to do your initial declaration. But obviously for Syria, everything was really condensed.
Then during one month on November, a multidisciplinary team was deployed in Syria to carry on verification activities. This inspection team, as I told you, was supported by the U.N. component also deployed in Syria.
So it was to certify the inspectors deployed in Syria, as I told you, with multidisciplinary capacities, and they were supported by almost 80 person from U.N. in order to provide the security. We were under the umbrella of UN-DSS, U.N. Department for Security Safety, to provide us with (inaudible) with the logistical support, with accommodation when needed, and all the logistical and administrative support that is needed under such difficult environment.
The declare chemical in Syria, declared 1,060 square metric ton of Category I, as per the treaty, and 265 metric ton of Category II chemical weapon.
However, despite this categorization for the — for the destruction — first, the removal and the destruction — the declared chemicals were prioritized in two priorities.
Priority one chemicals included mustard and key binary components like A and B and BB. The binary components like oil and vinegar when not mixed — sorry, I have a cold — is provided due to the air conditioning everywhere in U.S.
And I don’t know why, because with this cold winter you put also ice in the water.
UNKNOWN: This must be a French cold.
ANELLI: You’re right. So, you mixed — ooh, la la. Gabby , you will have to continue for me.
So the binary component like oil and vinegar when not mixed, you do not get the right final product.
So, this chemical should have been removed from the territory of Syria not later than 31st December 2013.
The Priority 2 chemicals include precursor such as chloroethylamine chloroethylamine, PCl 3, HF, POCl 3, HCL and other binary components such as isopropanol and hexamine.
These chemicals, except isopropanol, should have been removed from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic no later than the 5th February 2014.
Isopropanol was subject to destruction inside of Syria Arab Republic.
Merci. It’s America coffee.
Merci, Jean Pascal.
Despite this very — very small delay of removal of the chemical P1 and P2, P1 certifies this number and P2 5th February. Unfortunately, due to the situation in Syria, due to the logistical support that we have offered to provide to Syria, due also to the fact that other chemical to respect IMDG compliance, International Maritime Regulation Compliance, it took us until June to remove all the chemical from Syria. However, the challenge was there.
Here, you have some picture of Priority 1 chemicals. You have a sulfur mustard tank on the left, and you have DF tank on the right. And DF is a binary component of sarin.
As all the other process of state, Syria declared chemical weapons to reach facility, chemical weapon SF in the OPCW jargon where the chemicals are normally stored. 12 such facilities were declared by Syria. The chemicals were removed and transferred for destruction, and the storage facility were closed under OPCW verification.
Now, turning to the production facility. Syria declared the 27 chemical weapon production facility. Such a facility as per the treaty were under not operational when Syria accepted the treaty, so it means 14th October.
All production equipment were verified. The production equipment means the reactor and every — within the facility were verified as destroyed on October and November 2013.
OPCW verified so far the destruction of 13 structure of the facility, meaning the walls and the ceiling and everything. Within these 13 chemical weapon production facilities, only the structure, eight mobile units were destroyed and five above-ground structures.
Here, you have a picture of an underground precursor production facility in Syria. Syria declared five tunnels where they mix and produce — they produce and mix some chemicals. These are production of sarin precursor.
The transfer of chemical outside of Syria, probably it was most a challenging part of the Syrian disarmament activities carried by OPCW. You have to imagine 12 facilities in the storage facility in Damascus in arms under and secured (inaudible) where chemical under OPCW verification need to be loaded, reloaded, correctly packaged to comply with IMDG and send to Latakia Harbor in a coordinated manner to lose the transfer of the chemical on border ship, and in addition, the ship can — could stay only a few hours in Latakia for security reason.
So, you imagine the — the complexity of such a logistical task to achieve the removal of chemical outside of Syria. And thanks to everybody to the international communities that contribute largely to the success of this mission.
Here, you have some HF cylinder that will — that is very — update for the time being very — at the top of — under the spot. Each single chemical drums — tank cylinder were tagged and packed in 20 feet container, which could be loaded on border ships.
All this packaging to respect the international rules of transportation, allowing the delivery of chemical within the different country selected or volunteer for destruction
The maritime operation were a key component of the transfer of chemicals outside of Syria. Norway and Denmark provided vessel allowing the sea transport of chemicals. USA provided a logistical vessel equipped with onboard naturalization system to destroy mustard and DF.
Here, you have a very nice view of the Danish ship, the Ark Futura first in blue and the Taico in red escorted by military vessel in order to ensure the security of the removal of chemical weapons.
Chemical destruction outside of Syria, the OPCW using a combination of physical presence, monitoring equipment, on-site visit, verify the destruction of Syrian chemicals at the different sites were delivered.
Cape Ray, I already spoke about. Ekokem Finland, after abiding process, Ekokem Finland and U.S. were selected to destroy the chemical agent.
You have also Ellesmere U.K., so all this site contributed to the destruction outside of Syria of the chemical agents within the verification and under the verification of the OPCW.
Something familiar for you, the Cape Ray with the field-deployable hydrolysis system, the destruction operations was verified by the OPCW inspector, so the continued presence onboard of the ship and using also monitoring equipment.
We used to walk a lot with U.S. regarding the verification of destruction at a facility within U.S., l and we did the same here with the facility agreement in a great detail plan of verification. And it was very good experience for our inspectors, and I will say it was — as we used to do with U.S. a very cooperative work together to destroy — to verify the destruction of such a chemical.
I continue with the destruction outside of Syria. Mexichem U.K. is destroying some HF cylinder, 7 metric tons of HF. Veolia destroyed some inorganic compounds like PCl 3, PUCl 3, P2S5, and they continued to destroy the HF cylinder.
GEKA, Munster and Ekokem now are destroying the reaction mass issued from the destruction of the DF and the sulfur mustard onboard of the Cape Ray, but the agent is already neutralized. Now, it’s just a mixture of some organic and salt that has to be incinerated in GEKA and in Ekokem Finland.
Here, you have slide representing the — where we are, the status of the destruction. 98 percent have been destroyed, about 100 percent.
HF cylinder remains to be destroyed, and you have seen that the progression of the reaction mass incineration is about 30 percent. But it’s — I will say it’s — the collective of the priority is very low for us.
So in conclusion in a very short period under a hazardous security situation, OPCW has achieved a tremendous work with and in Syria with the support of the international community.
The storage facility are now emptied and closed, the chemical agent are almost destroyed, and 50 percent of the structure of the PF has been razed to the level of the ground.
However, it’s not yet finished. Some work are still ahead with the destruction of 12 structures, five tunnels, and seven hangars, and also two structures which were not accessible due to the fact that they were in a conflict area.
So, for these two structures, we have to inspect them and we have to verify the destruction of such a structure.
In parallel of the work on the 12 PF, you have the work of the declaration assessment team. So the destruction assessment — the declaration assessment teams, sorry, continue to work with Syria in order to finalize the Syrian declaration. I think at this date more than 10 amendments have already been received by the T.S. chloroethylamine.
But this — we’ll return to the initial slide where I presented you the very tight delay when Syria declared its chemical weapon program. Normally is the party will have a little bit of time to prepare their declaration before to join the treaty. For Syria, it was a contrary. It seems that we have still some questions pending, and we continue to work with them.
Finally, a question of this morning regarding the use of chlorine. The fact-finding mission continue to investigate this use of chlorine as chemical warfare agents. So we are coming back to the general purpose criterion in Syria.
Here, you have, to conclude, the challenge that we faced, and maybe I will add that for discussion later on and I will be pleased to answer to your different question later on.
And thank you for this. Sorry for my accent and my pained throat.
KIMBALL: Just fine.
ANELLI: But I will try to drink some whiskey with Renee chloroethylamine in order to…
ANELLI: … without ice, huh. Thanks a lot.
KIMBALL: Well, thank you. I think you did a great job. And we have some tea in case you want this, Dominique. OK.
All right. Paul Walker, thanks for being here again.
WALKER: Thank you, Daryl. Dominique is always tough act to follow, as they say. But I really appreciate Dominique coming from the OPCW along with his colleagues here and many others too.
So, my presentation will overlap Dominique’s a little bit, but I think I’ll — not speak on behalf of the OPCW or the United Nations or the U.S. government — I’ll give you sort of an NGO, I think, perspective.
We’ve been very involved in the Syrian demilitarization operation, and I’ve blogged on a weekly basis. I think we’re up to 44 blogs on the information for the 150 or so nongovernmental organizations that we coordinate in to help support the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Let me first show this picture again. I think we — it’s never enough to remind us that we’re approaching the 100th anniversary of the first major use of chemical warfare. And this is a photo, I think Jean Pascal may have used one similar or Ralf, one or the other, too.
But it shows World War I soldiers blinded more or less, all with bandages around the eyes and, of course, that happened not so much with chlorine, but really with the blister agents, mustard and the like, that we used later on.
And in World War I, you know, there were somewhere around 90,000 troops killed by chemical warfare, about a million injured throughout the whole war. So it’s very appropriate, I think. And I’m very happy to see that Ypres, Belgium, and Pieter Trogh who spoke earlier, you know, are doing a big commemoration in the middle of April.
This, I think you’ve heard mentioned too already, but I just want to remind us, you know, we’re all talking about the Chemical Weapons Convention, and we just return from, just a week ago — less — yes, just a week ago today from the 19th Conference of States Parties what we call the 19th CSP in The Hague, and I know a lot of us were there for the week dealing with all these issues. And I’ll show you a statement later on from that conference.
The only points I’d like to make here is there are still six countries outside of the CWC, and I’ll mention those later, and that we still have, you know, we still have declared stockpiles to be destroyed. So we’re still about a decade away from finishing the currently declared stockpiles.
So, to put it in context to where Syria stands, I think, you know, we’re talking there, at the bottom, about 1,308 metric tons. I think Dominique said about 1,300. The original figures were 1,335. So the figures have change a little bit over last year when the measurements became a bit more accurate.
But the two big guys there, as you see, are Russia and the United States. And those are the two countries, two of the four, that still have a ways to go in completing their destruction process.
The other ones, India and Syria, there are no — India and South Korea, sorry, have no definite public information amounts that I’m aware of. And I keep pressing the Indians and the South Koreans to talk publicly about their program a little bit more, because they’ve both been success stories. And I think it would help the OPCW, would help all of us, to try to promote the importance of evolution of chemical weapons if they’d be a little more transparent.
Syria, 26 tons, Albania, 16 metric tons, I can talk about these later too, if you’d like. And the U.S. destruction, just to remind people here, is about 90 percent complete. We’ll have a speaker later, Craig Williams, who’s in the audience, talking specifically about the Blue Grass, Kentucky, site, which will be the last site destroyed in the United States.
We’ve been very involved in this, you know, for over 20 years now, and I must say it’s been an enormously difficult, complex, technologically challenging, politically contentious process in the United States. And I think if you were at one of the stockpile sites in the local communities, you’d realize really how challenging this has really been.
I think much to the consternation of the U.S. military that’s tried their best to do the right thing, but, you know, suddenly realized that, in fact, local communities have enormous control over these processes. You have, indeed, environmental permitting, you know, you need emergency evacuation procedures and the like.
In Russia, that’s actually a picture from one of the big aerial bomb sites that shows Russian workers neutralizing a nerve agent inside the bomb, which is how they do it in Russia for the most part.
Russians have made very good progress, but they started 12 years after the United States. You know, they opened their first facility, a place called the Gorny in the Saratov Oblast in December 2002.
Even though we first went — the Americans went to Russia in 1994 and started discussing with the onsite inspection at Shchuchye in the Kurgan Oblast started discussing the process with them. But the first operating facility began, you know, limited operations to neutralize lewisite in 2000 — only in 2002.
So in 12 years, essentially, this month, they’ve actually destroyed, you know, considerably more actually than the United States has destroyed in 24 years. So the annual kind of throughput destruction rate is almost — I think it’s 50 percent or maybe even 100 percent higher than the U.S. throughput rate.
They still have a way to go. You know, we’ve — we in the United States, we’ve closed seven facilities. We have two more which we’ll start up in the next few months actually and years. The Russians have actually destroyed two stockpiles, but will close another four actually in the next year.
So, just on other sites, Albania finished in 2007, thanks to the United States and Germany and others. South Korea finished in 2008. India finished in 2009. Libya has finished its schedule one, its actual chemical agents recently. And then, it’s still got schedule two, and we can talk about that more if you want. There’s about 850 tons of precursor chemicals, which are very similar to what we’ve taken out of Syria, which still sit in very kind of insecure areas with Libya.
And then, of course, Syria or Iraq declared 2009 when they joined the convention. And they declared two bunkers fill with the kind of detritus from the inspections in the post-Gulf War in ’91. And then Syria, of course, declared in 2013.
So on Syria, this all began, you know, probably around July 2012, if not sooner, when Syria — actually there was a spokesperson that actually confirmed chemical weapons existed in Syria.
And then, we went through a whole series of alleged attacks, and I haven’t put them all here, but there have been several. And all of these had low, you know, numbers of deaths and injuries, in the single or double figures, until we really hit August 21st. And I think Daryl mentioned this and Dominique did too in the — just east of Damascus in the Ghouta region.
And the reports — I don’t think we still have accurate numbers, but the reports say about 1,400 people killed. And I was — I read all the initial news accounts on this, and it really is a very moving and tragic situation with all of them killed in the middle of the night, many of them in bed, at least 400 children. And this is really what obviously set up the public discussion and the Obama threat on attacking Syria.
And, of course, about a month — less than a month later, Syria joined. President Bashar al-Assad agreed to accede to the treaty, and the treaty enters into force one month later, in mid-October.
So, on Syria and chemical weapons destruction, I think Dominique, you know, did a really excellent job in presenting all these figures. This is kind of a summary, 1,308 metric tons. So compared to the U.S. and Russian stockpiles, it’s small, you know. But it’s still much larger than the Albanian stockpiles. It’s still much larger than the Libyan stockpile.
A hundred percent removed between January and June of this year. That’s a, you know, a major step forward, but was very delayed for a whole number of reasons we can talk about later, if you like. And to date, it’s close to 98 percent destroyed. And I think Dominique talked about the more specific numbers, 98 percent of the original stockpile. And then you, of course, have thousands of tons of toxic effluent that you’ve produced from the Cape Ray operation, and of course that still has a long way to go, what we call second stage processing, to be destroyed.
That’s the picture, I think same picture probably that you used, Dominique, there. That’s the field-deployable hydrolysis system, the FDHS, that was produced up at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland.
And those are tanks, actually titanium-lined tanks that are actually used in the neutralization originally of the mustard stockpile we had in Aberdeen, Maryland, you know, just north of Baltimore, that was destroyed in a very kind of emergency process or accelerated process after the 9/11 attacks, when people realized this was one of I think four open air stockpiles that the United States had.
I visited it, I think in 1996 or 1997 and was very concerned at that point about the potential for terrorist attack. It was just barrels of mustard agents sitting in the back of Edgewood Arsenal, you know, spitting distance from the Chesapeake Bay, with a little chain link fence around it, and a little kind of Keystone cop, you know, at the end of the 500 yards down the road. And we can talk about that more if you like.
But these were produced — Edgewood is producing six of these. Three of them were produced and put on the Cape Ray, two of them to operate, a third to be cannibalized for spare parts. And they operated very well in the end. It’s a big wet chemistry kind of plumbing operation. You know, you just have to make sure the valves don’t plug and the pipes don’t break and burst.
You can see this is kind of a list of the — how everything was treated. It was very difficult, I found, for tracking all the chemicals. You know, the OPCW called them Priority 1 and 2 first, then they called them Category 1 and 2, and I’m not sure what — still don’t know really what the difference was between those.
And so, all the different denominations of it, and they used these different chemical phrases. So, those of us who aren’t chemists, I think even the chemists, you know, had a very confusing time. And I don’t know whether that was really intentional or not, but we didn’t know which direction the chemicals were going and on which ship they were going to be on and which ship was going to, you know, the Italian port, and on and on. So, I’m sure Dominique and a lot of our colleagues here will agree with me.
Those of us who get down into the weeds and track this stuff very closely, you know, we’re very concerned. We didn’t have the right figures and the right chemicals and where they were going to wind up, and this is all part of kind of helping facilitate the process too.
You know, 600 tons, about half — a little less than half of the chemicals were processed onboard the Cape Ray, and that went extremely well. There were some minor incidents onboard the Cape Ray. There was a little fire that took — but you won’t hear anyone really talk too publicly about this — but a small kitchen fire.
There was a leak at one point, but that was contained. And it was one of the big issues that the public in the Mediterranean was really worried about. And there were some minor I think a crew injuries on the ship too, but nothing that required, you know, anything major to take place.
One hundred twenty-two metric tons, the isopropanol, was treated in Syria. Most people don’t realize that. But it neutralizes very well. I think, you know, it means that the chemicals removed from Syria were somewhere under 1,200 tons. It wasn’t 1,308 tons. It was actually 1,200 and somewhat.
Yes, let me move on here.
The other thing I would mention is that there were large protests against this whole operation. And we were trying throughout the whole time last year and this year to try to help facilitate that process.
And these are pictures of demonstrations in Crete. We didn’t hear much about this in the United States, I think. But in Europe, there were over 10,000 people that demonstrated on Crete, in Athens, in Istanbul and other places, very concerned that we were processing some of the world’s most dangerous chemicals at sea and that this would set a precedent potentially for destroying really toxic waste and other things at sea that would be subject to, you know, accident.
These people may have been a little over concerned about what went on, but they’re worried that the ship could sink, it could leak, you know, a whole variety of things could happen.
There were protests from the fishing industry in the Mediterranean. There were protests from the tourist industry.
And this is one of the things we tried to help facilitate, which I think to some extent frustrated the U.S. government and the OPCW and the United Nations, that we were inserting ourselves in asking for certain public conferences and dialogues on this at the time.
And then, I would just put in this quick statement which we can talk about later. At the OPCW, week before last or last week, actually, there was a 56-country statements of which the United States was part and the Italians led. I think there is actually a copy of it that may be on the — outside on the table, if you’d like.
But it clearly stated, if you read the bottom of that, it says, “this includes the fact that witnesses invariably connected the attacks to the use of helicopters. Only the Syrian military possesses the capability of such attack.” So, this clear pointed the finger at Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government for doing these attacks.
You heard from Dominique that the fact-finding mission, you know, met some, as they call it, political obstacles for determining where these attacks were coming from, both the live agent attacks previously and also the chlorine attacks most recently.
And I think, you know, this is, out of a 190 state parties, this is about a quarter, you know, maybe a little over 30 percent of the states parties. So, you can see that there’s still a debate within the OPCW as to whether Syria itself should be blamed or whether in fact there’s adequate proof of that.
So, let me just make some conclusions. Chemical agents are no longer viable military weapons and they have become taboo, morally reprehensible and a dangerous burden. We’ve seen this, you know, this is 100 years old, basically. But I think today, you can really conclude that any country, you know, which may have chemical weapons, those outstanding outside the treaty regime, really can’t use chemical weapons at all. I mean if they do, they’ll be widely condemned and be pariah states in the world today.
The chemical weapons destruction, CWD, process in Syria has gone well, although about 5 months delayed. So, you know, in the grand scheme of things, this is fast, very fast. I pointed out earlier, the United States has been working on its stockpile destruction for 20, you know, 24 years since the first incinerator on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific began operating.
So to do a Syrian operation here and really, you know, 12 months or so, maybe drag it out with the effluent to 18 months, is enormously quick. So I think it’s overall very successful operation.
The unique OPCW joint mission also illustrates possible future multilateral operations between the U.N. and a multilateral independent organization, such as the OPCW.
I must say there were some questions about who is in charge, first of all, and we can talk more about that, I’m sure, if you’re interested. Whether you went to the joint mission in Cyprus or whether you went to the director general of the OPCW or whether you went to the secretary general in the New York office or whether the U.S. Department of Defense, which operated the Cape Ray was in charge, because they were handling basically destruction of half the stockpile.
And we all faced that sort of problem. When we called somebody up to ask a question, they’d say, “Oh no, no, no. Call State Department.” And you call State Department and they say, “You know, that’s really Department of Defense. Call the Department of Defense.” And they’d say, “No, the OPCW is in charge, so call.”
So, there was this kind of round robin that a lot of us have gone through, and I think we can all now joke a little bit about that. But frankly, it was very frustrating, many times. You know, called pass the buck I think by some of us.
Anyway, the Syrian CWD experience, the first to remove a chemical stockpile from a possessor state, which is against the Chemical Weapons Convention actually. So this is a special, you know, exception that was allowed. We could take the chemicals out of Syria and rather than process it in Syria.
The continued use of chlorine as a weapon demands the OPCW fact-finding mission continue with its inspections.
The ongoing process for verified elimination of serious CWD program must continue. You heard from Dominique already and I think from Ralf Trapp that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Many countries deserve credit for their commitment, especially Russia and the U.S. for their initial agreed statement and facilitation — one of the few, you know, positive things in Russian-American relations today — the U.S., Denmark, Norway for their — their ship commitment, you know — the Danes and the Norwegians never guessed, I think — never dreamed that their ships would be out there six months rather than one month or two months, so the expense to Norway and Denmark was enormous — and to other countries, the U.S., Finland, the United Kingdom and Germany for accepting — finally accepting some of the toxic effluent chemicals that came out of — in Germany, you may have — you may have read in the news a week or so ago — had three or four workers injured, actually, because one of the tanks that they were — they were burning in — in the site called GEKA, G-E-K-A in Munster, Germany apparently had — had remaining mustard agent in it and injured vapors out of — injured some of the workers.
Two dozen contributors to the Syria Trust Fund. You heard, I think, Ralf earlier mention the whole question about this being a voluntary effort and trying to raise money, you know, the OPCW going around kind of with a tin cup asking for donations to — to fund the whole operation, because the OPCW didn’t have the money to do it at that time.
All possessor states must complete safe elimination — includes the United States, Russia, Iraq and Syria still and — and Schedule 2 in Libya — and then all member — nonmember states must join the CWC.
That’s really what we call universality, what we’re all working for, and that includes Angola, Israel, Egypt, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan. It’s not a company that you really want to be in these days, I think, in many ways, and that’s a very important point we can talk about more later too.
And that’s it, so thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Paul.
And now onto Simon, who was not passed the buck. He has come here, and we deeply appreciate that, Simon Limage from the State Department.
After Simon speaks, we will take your questions. We’re right on schedule.
LIMAGE: Thank you. Thank you, Daryl, and thank you, Paul.
I think I’ll start by echoing that point. I — I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone at the State Department ever voluntarily say that DOD was in charge of something that was going well.
Myself and my colleagues have much too much to say about a lot of things to — to want to not comment.
I wanted to just say a couple of words before I got into some of the substance of — that I think will nicely complement what Paul and Dominique have — have talked about. If you haven’t read it yet, Paul has an excellent article in — in this edition of Arms Control Today, and towards the end of his article, he — he — he has a section on lessons learned from the — the Syria CW experience.
And while I don’t necessarily identify myself with all of his conclusions, I think he raises all the right issues that we are in a particular time space to — to look into.
He talks about public engagement, and certainly, there are lessons learned there, and the discussion about how much to share, when to share it, with whom to share it, how do you share information when you have some partners that don’t want to draw attention to their part of their operation is a difficult but important task, so did we get that right or did we not?
The reaction of some of the countries that we worked with or in the — the area where we worked, you showed some pictures of protests and what those protests were about and how significant they were and how did we try to mitigate those in the U.S. government through briefings in the Hague and elsewhere. Did we talk to the right people about the operation, is also important.
Another section that he has in his article has to do with funding for the OPCW and the trust fund.
I counted, in my experience over the — the life cycle of the operation, three different trust funds. There was one at the United Nations. There were two at the OPCW.
There were some particular strictures that govern what each trust fund was targeted at, and there was also regulations and laws that allowed or prevented individual member states that were contributing in certain ways to those funds in addition to some of the bilateral funds that they produced. And so, having a conversation there, I think, is important.
Also, Paul did a good number of giving a good way — did a good job of sharing the numbers and a description of what other countries stockpiles and efforts at elimination looked like.
I would only add, though, that numbers can only be understood in a particular context, and while the — the numbers of metric tons were smaller for the declared material on the — in the — on the Syrian side, certainly, the context was of a regime actively using a CW in the middle of a civil war while the operation was ongoing, and so the — that timeframe, I think, becomes very important.
And then Paul talks also about, both in his last slide and then in his article, about the message that this may send and the political impetus that this may provide to other countries to do the right thing in terms of nonproliferation norms.
I’m mindful of another — he mentioned Burma, and I’m mindful of a decision Burma made recently to deposit its instruments of accession to the BWC and what that means from a programmatic and a policy perspective for the United States in terms of encouraging that country to also signup to the CWC, et cetera.
So, those were all, I think, items we could get into during the Q&A if that’s of interest to you.
Obviously, I’m filling in for Andy. I had an email from him last night saying that he had the meeting that — that Daryl described, and — and I think we’re all — been warned to come up with good excuses here in the future, although I love getting away from my desk, so that’s not — not something I’ll ever say.
But I will say — and I don’t mean this to — to — to sound trite — but to me, the fact that Andy emailed me and that I was able to come is a testament to the interagency nature of the Syria CW operation and the fact that despite our problems, our different cultures in each department — and it’s not just State and DOD; DHS, HHS and others, and different domestic departments were involved in the overall operation — I think we really came to see ourselves as a family towards the end, and I think there’s a lot of lessons there.
I traveled with Andy in the earlier phases before the Cape Ray became operational. I went with him to Albania, to France and to Belgium to try persuade those governments at the time to explore incineration options. And then, of course, you know that didn’t work out for particular reasons that we can get into.
When that became unfeasible politically, my chemical security team, program and policy experts worked very closely with DTRA on the development of the Cape Ray and then on the actual operation.
So, I’d like to — to recognize Paul for his engagement and his — his deep engagement during the operational phase and then certainly now in helping us understand what actually we’ve accomplished, and certainly recognize Dominique and all his colleagues at the OPCW for taking enormous risks in the field, on the ground and in no small measure, making this a success.
Obviously, before we could talk about the Cape Ray, a number of things had to occur in Syria and individuals who otherwise are rugged and brave had to operate in the middle of very dangerous circumstances at their own risk.
You know, I recall a small data point at the very beginning when we first OPCW expert went in as part of the mission. This was before the U.N., if I recall correctly, had completed its own security assessment on the ground, and I think that’s a tribute to the character of a lot of the individuals on Dominique’s team and — and among his colleagues.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t recognize some of my interagency colleagues that are here: Ken Ward, who leads — leads our AVC team on — on this issue and can speak chapter and verse to a lot of the issues that are going on today in terms of the fact finding mission and the work in the Hague and certainly the diplomacy related there, and then colleagues from other agencies.
You’ll be hearing from Laura Holgate later, who is our cheerleader and interagency leader at the White House and obviously gave us a lot of the political impetus in the early stages of — of the effort and then throughout.
So, how did we — where were we looking back at the effort, and how did we get there?
I recall, with Ken and with a lot of our colleagues at State, DOD and elsewhere, two years ago, we were in the middle of very intensive planning exercises for the day after Assad was going to fall. And I remember being part of endless planning and mapping exercises to look at what would happen to the CW program when Assad, in this wonderful mythical, magical moment, would be peacefully removed and a strong, stalwart, moderate opposition would take power and would engage in a pleasant and polite discussion with us about what to do about the — the arsenal.
And that consumed a lot of our time, but I think, to me, is a tribute to fact that we do plan.
And we plan so much, we plan so much that one of the documents that Ken and I approved — and so many of you are familiar with the Sub-IPC, IPC and DC and PC process that involves ever increasingly, senior elements of our interagency — approved a number of documents, including the agenda for the first meeting of the interagency the day after Assad was going to fall, and all the questions that our decision makers had to consider in terms of budgeting, engagement, et cetera.
So, a lot of things are planned.
Another strand of effort that I was involved in, in the years before this diplomatic breakthrough between my boss, Secretary Kerry, and then Foreign Minister Lavrov was the engagement of the Syrian military opposition.
I discussed, along with many of our allies, the — what General Idris, at the time, head of the military opposition, should do with him and — and his colleagues. Should they liberate part of Syria that — that had elements of the Syrian chemical weapons program?
And we had very basic questions about messaging, and he said, you know — and a lot of this was deeply emotional for him, given the particular context of the fight that he was leading. CW was at the forefront of his mind, along with trying to — to solidify the military planning there.
And we had conversations about, what do you with the Syrian scientists if you capture a site? Do you shoot? Do you surround them? Do you leave it alone? And our interest in the United States was to leave the sites but to secure them and not try to harm themselves in doing that.
And then there was a conversation about the CWC itself in the early years, and out Turkish allies were helpful at a time when some other countries were encouraging the opposition not to pronounce themselves and what they might do, should they succeed in the civil war in terms of signing up to the CWC and actually saying that these weapons are abhorrent to the opposition, so we can talk a little bit more about that.
So, all of that was — consumed us. And then, of course, a little over a year ago, the world learned the horrific news that forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad had reportedly killed hundreds of innocent Syrian in sarin gas attacks in an area called Ghouta, a collection of farms outside of Damascus.
Just days later, as has been mentioned, a U.N. mission of chemical experts confirmed the attacks. Several international media outlets labeled the attack in Ghouta “the deadliest use of chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein’s ’88 attack on Halabja.” Photos of the dead, many, women and children, shocked the public conscience and sent a call for action.
What followed was an exceptionally intense level of diplomatic engagement that led to the September 27, 2013 U.N. Security Council Resolution and OPCW Executive Council decision requiring the Syrian government to remove and destroy its declared chemicals agents and chemical program facilities and then establish a joint UN-OPCW mission to carry out the monitoring and verification of the removal and destruction process.
On June 28, 2014 less than 10 months after the attack, the international community had successfully moved the last of Assad’s declared stockpiles out of the country. And on August 18th, as was mentioned, DOD announce that the motor vehicle Cape Ray had fully neutralized the most hazardous materials.
So, barely over a year ago, no one could have predicted that we would’ve been able to establish a diplomatic framework for Syria to give up its declared chemical weapons.
The president took the diplomatic route, which in hindsight was clearly the right thing to do. In Syria, we removed more than 1,200 metric tons of chemical weapons without firing a single shot and with strong interagency international cooperation.
So, let me dwell a little bit on the — the effort to find the diplomatic solution.
The events, I think, in our mind have been whiplash-inducing, long before Ghouta-U.S. diplomatic behind the scenes work on Syria had begun in — in earnest with what I could only describe as concentric circles of conferences and meetings in the United States and with our allies and international partners.
Perhaps not enough with our NGO partners, but they would come later. I’ll salvage our reputation for transparency here.
In the United States, we held interagency committee meetings with the State Department, the NSC, the Department of Defense and other agencies.
We engaged our close allies first — the U.K. and France — to coordinate potential responses to the developing crisis. Canada and Germany were soon to follow this coalition.
We held a number of meetings in Prague, which led to interesting tracking efforts as multiple international meetings overlapped. We had what we called the — I forget, Ken, if it was the Prague process or the Prague meetings. That all made sense when the first meeting occurred in Prague, but then the second Prague meeting took place in Finland, and then I — I sort of lost the plot after that.
But suffice to say that there was a, I think, a ferment of international support to do something and a lot of discussions about what that something might be.
Ultimately, our consultations with Russia proved invaluable in creating a common understanding and a personal familiarity that became the basis of the U.N.’s elimination framework.
Now, the things weren’t always easy, as — as — as you can imagine. I was part of technical level talks with many of my colleagues with Russians that lasted months before the Kerry-Lavrov framework where we felt at times that we were accomplishing very little, twiddling our thumbs, not agreeing on the threat, both in Moscow and elsewhere.
But we did learn interesting things.
So, for example, our Russian colleagues shared in one particular meeting that I had that they were helping, as we knew, coach the Syrians on how to comply and implement the CWC.
One question that I thought was — was interesting that the Syrians asked, reportedly, according to Russians, is, do we have to accept the Americans on these inspection teams at the OPCW? Can we kick them off?
And the Russians said, “That’s probably not the right thing to do. Things are going pretty well now, so — so don’t do this.” This was coming from — from the Russians, and, of course, we — we thought that made sense.
And then we’ve evolved a lot further in terms of our channel of communication with the Russians to much more constant communication, for example, between — you know, like many of us we have multiple bosses. My most — one of my most senior bosses, Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov regularly speak and were an important channel to raise the foot-dragging that the Syrians engaged in at times on the removal operation.
And I think, in my view, although I don’t have evidence to the contrary, were effective at raising problems with the Syrians that I think, in a couple of instances, moved the ball forward.
We engaged with Syria’s neighbors and European partners, which provided the basis of support across regions, for our positions and proposals and the OPCW Executive Council and the U.N. Security Council. This led to the formation of the most complex and comprehensive combined operational effort thus far between the U.N. and the OPCW in the form of the Joint Mission.
Dominique showed a great picture of the secretary general and the director of the OPCW, but I have to say that those smiles took a while to — to — to — to produce. But when — when they began working together, I — I thought that that was very effective.
Then, of course, there was the very long list of international partners that supported — I’ll — I’ll skip the — the list and the contributions that they made, but I think that outpouring was enormously significant both financially and in terms of equipment.
Now, how did we get to that diplomatic framework? Of course, the threat of credible force from the president really is what we think brought Assad to the table and prompted Russia to engage with Syrians on an agreement.
Despite the fact that Russia and the United States did not agree on virtually anything else about Syria — not the diagnosis, not the prescription — the one area where we converged was on the belief that Syria continued — Syria’s continued proliferation of chemical weapons was a threat that had to be addressed.
This allowed Secretary Kerry to note at a news conference that the only reprieve from a kinetic response would be if the regime were to give up its stockpile of chemical weapons.
The Russians saw the value in a negotiated outcome and expressed an interest in talks. In the days that followed, Kerry spoke on the phone with Foreign Minister Lavrov nine times. These phone calls spurred Secretary Kerry to lead two and a half days of negotiations in Geneva in September.
Ultimately, the core of the deal was reached in a private poolside conversation between Kerry and Lavrov at the Intercontinental Hotel. In these face-to-face engagements, all interlocutors, from Secretary Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to our respective ambassadors to the U.N. and OPCW to various other skilled negotiators and technical experts, were focused on finding a solution, despite their disagreements.
The technical group that was created set target dates, methods and goals for elimination of the program. The June 30th target deadline for complete program destruction was decided upon after a thorough and thoughtful consideration. Of course, it slipped, as many things did, in the Syrian context.
These — this progress, though, would not have been possible without the steady hand of the Security Council, the OPCW under Director Uzumcu and the European Commission, Russia’s encouragement and then, of course, Sigrid Kaag’s leadership as part of the — leading the joint team.
Let me close with where we are now, and certainly, we can get into more of this in the Q&A. But, of course, the regime’s use of chemical weapons must be understood in a broader context of indiscriminate killing, denial of humanitarian assistance and flouting the will of the United Nations and the international community.
In April 2014, as Dominique mentioned, the OPCW director general established a fact-finding mission to investigate reports that the industrial chemical chlorine was being used in Syria, a clear violation of the CWC.
Despite a near catastrophic attack, the team issued a preliminary report stating that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks. This use, combined with ample open-source information, suggests the Assad regime is the culprit behind these attacks.
U.N. human rights investigators issued a report stating that the regime dropped chlorine barrel bombs eight times in April 2014 in three villages in Northern Syria.
We believe that the international community should continue to do everything it can to support the fact-finding missions continued work. We’re still not confident in the completeness and accuracy of the regime’s declaration and will support all efforts to confirm the claims and examine discrepancies.
Thank you for your attention and look forward to your questions.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Simon, Dominique, and Paul.
Now it’s your turn. As we did in the morning session, please raise your hand, identify yourself, wait for the microphone to come.
And Jonah, I think we have question in the middle. Thanks.
QUESTION: Hi. Galen Carey with the National Association of Evangelicals.
Acknowledging the amazing achievement of the Syrian operation and its impact on strengthening the taboo against chemical weapons, what impact has it had on the overall question of the Syrian conflict?
As someone mentioned earlier, most people are dying from other causes. And so, has the chemical weapons success made a step forward, a step backward because it obscures other things, or does it basically have no impact on this question of how to resolve the Syrian conflict?
KIMBALL: Simon, Paul, you want to try to tackle that?
LIMAGE: Sure. I’ll just say a few words from our perspective.
I think as important an achievement the — the elimination of the declared stockpile was, I don’t think I would argue that it significantly impacted the course of the current conflict. I think it has to be understood in its own context as a singular achievement and an important one at that.
There were some very difficult conversations that we had with the opposition about our focus on CW elimination at the time when we were discussing, in other parts of the government, how to support the opposition in the broader fight.
But I think we — we agreed and the opposition eventually agreed that this was an important focus and certainly one that the international community rallied around.
(UNKNOWN): I’ll just say briefly, I think I largely agree with what you said, Simon. Unfortunately, it hasn’t — I don’t think it’s impacted the — the ongoing death and suffering, you know, 150, 200,000 Syrians killed, and still no, you know, resolution in sight.
So, I think it’s still — it was still worthwhile doing, because I think it’s promoted a weapon-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East. It’s put pressure on Israel in particular.
Israel doesn’t have any chemical threat to it at all now except from non-state actors, maybe, and maybe use of chlorine in minor incidences. But we had a — we had a workshop in Tel Aviv just a month ago — three weeks now, I guess, and the Israelis are feeling the pressure. And the Egyptians are too.
So, I think from an arms control and elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in general, it’s actually been a very positive step forward.
It strengthened the OPCW. This has been a very successful program. I think the OPCW, as several others have said, you know, deserves a lot of credit for having put their inspectors — first time, they had to wear armored vests to — to the best of my knowledge ever in the, you know, 17, 18-year history of the OPCW. It’s really strengthened the regime and put pressure on the remaining six countries overall.
And we know — we know Angola and Myanmar are close to coming into the convention. South Sudan, a very new government, may take a while. Israel and Egypt, I think, just need a lot of pressure from all sides — the NGO community and government communities, and we’ve talked about that within the OPCW. And the, you know, the toughest one, I think, to bring in, of course, in the long run will be North Korea.
But I think when you get farther down, Angola and Myanmar come in. You have four countries left. Nobody wants to be in that sort of package with North Korea, so to speak.
So, in that way, it’s been really helpful. But I think the whole, you know, the whole civil war in Syria is a whole larger challenge that unfortunately, I don’t think has been helped. And — and Bashar al-Assad has survived to date and may have even been strengthened a bit, you know, with this agreement rather than having been potentially killed in a military strike earlier on.
KIMBALL: Just to — I want to just add a couple observations from a — from a kind of broader perspective. I think it’s a great question, Galen.
I mean, the first thing I would say, as you know, as somebody who’s worked in conflict zones, that, you know, anything that can be done to reduce the risk to civilians is worth it, because while it may not make a dramatic change in the — the death count in this horrible civil war, differences on the margins matters. I mean, those are individual people.
So, you know, I think it is clear that the removal of the mustard and the sarin meant that Assad didn’t have that option anymore, OK, so that’s — we got to remember that.
The second thing is before — long before the Ghouta attack, the concern in the security community and the nonproliferation community — and Sandy Spector from the Monterey Institute put together great article on the subject — was that the — there would be a loss of control of Syria’s arsenal, OK? And the concern was that radical Islamist groups — we’ve heard that phrase lately — might get their hands on the stockpiles, depending on how the war went.
And so, I think another thing we got to remember — we can’t lose sight — is that because these weapons are not in Assad’s arsenal, depending on how this war goes — and it’s going on and on — Daesh, also known as ISIS, doesn’t have the option of getting their hands on large quantities of these weapons. Yes, they might get chlorine, because that’s at virtually any water treatment plant, but — and that is a severe problem. But…
So, I think those two things are important to — to — to remember, and — and we also have — we’ve got more work to do in terms of pursuing the declaration accuracy and ending the chlorine attacks.
So, other questions from the audience? Right up front, right here. Jean Pascal?
ZANDERS: Thank you. Jean Pascal Zanders.
A question to Mr. Limage and Mr. Anelli, there have been some allegations of chlorine use by ISIL recently and — not confirmed, but it does give credibility to an issue we’ve been thinking about, is the use of a chemical warfare agent by a non-state actor on the territory of a state party not under the control of that state party against another non-state actor?
How do you deal with that type of situation under international law? That’s perhaps the question to Mr. Anelli.
To Mr. Limage, having done all that detailed planning, how would you think of going about addressing that type of situation?
KIMBALL: We didn’t say the questions would be easy.
ANELLI: Thank you, Jean Pascal.
Regarding your — your — your first question, I would say there is a very quick answer.
You — you — you remember (inaudible) attack in Japan (inaudible), and one of the complaints of Japan was that this time, it was very difficult to be able to track the production of such a chemical by (inaudible) because, in fact, at this time, they did not developed — they do not translate in the law of the OPCW regime.
So now, in fact, that with, fortunately, the Article VII of the treaty, fortunately, we can expect that more than 50 percent, 60 percent of (inaudible) party to the treaty have applied this translation of the OPCW regime within the law, banning — by — by — by effect, banning the production of such a chemical or the use of such chemical weapons by any groups, terrorists or so and so.
So, the — the answer could look a little bit paradoxical, but the answer to your question will be that Syria, in case of like Iraq, in case of chlorine being used by some rebels, Syria will ask us to investigate — to investigate such a use.
It has not been done for the time being, but we have — we have an article investigation of alleged use, which can be used by (inaudible) party.
So, it’s within the treaty, not yet done, but we — we might see what will be the future.
LIMAGE: I’ll just to add to that on your second question. If…
(UNKNOWN): Yeah, it’s on.
LIMAGE: It’s — it’s on.
If there is, in fact, a verified use and if perhaps, even more importantly — I don’t know if you mentioned a particular country, but let’s say it’s Iraq — on the territory of Iraq, there’s a request from the Iraqi government for assistance from the United States, that is certainly something that we would look at. We’re not going to intervene in — in a developing investigation without a particular request for help.
This being said, I just happened to be the deputy that oversees our nonproliferation assistance to a number of countries, and then we have a fairly long tradition of assistance to Iraq in this area.
I — I led a team with the Department of Defense to Baghdad about a year and a half ago to discuss equipping their security forces with detection equipment and — and consequence management equipment, should there be a chemical attack that they might be able to respond to.
So, that — that is essentially the first stage, is how do you bolster your partner to be able to deal with that kind of a problem.
And then certainly, if there’s a request for assistance beyond that, that is certainly something that we’d look at.
KIMBALL: All right. Other questions? In the middle, please. Yes, Harry?
(UNKNOWN): I have a question.
Back in the 1970s, for peculiar reasons, whatnot, I was in the Department of State. I became something like the staff director of something called the NSC Contingency Planning Working Group.
Today, to put it in simple terms, I think we were looking at chemical and biological weapon uses. But — but in the context of transfer of these kinds of weapons from kind of rogue states or states to third parties.
And I was wondering whether someone could think about, given what we’ve seen in Syria and Iraq and ISIS and all the rest — I might add the group couldn’t come to any conclusion about either who should be in charge, which eventually we ended up with DOD being in charge.
But what I’d like to ask, the serious question on this is, what is your analysis here of that risk and any of the kind of contingency cases we have?
We know, for example, that North Korea has transferred various kinds of weapon capabilities, Pakistan, there is, of course, what’s exists already a little bit in Syria and Iraq.
So, the question here is how would this panel look at that issue and — and what — what are the dangers and risks?
LIMAGE: Perhaps I’ll take a first shot at what we’re doing today on that problem and then turn to — to perhaps a broader analysis from my colleagues.
In the Nonproliferation Bureau at the State Department and other agencies involved in this, we have programs like the Proliferation Security Initiative, which we work on with DOD and have a diplomatic engagement where we work with partner countries to try to prevent stem and — AND deal with the proliferation from state — state actors. And so, that’s something that I think is internationally recognized, obviously, with the U.N. Security Council Resolution.
As I mentioned earlier in the context of Iraq, we do provide assistance to other countries in a number of dialogues with key partners in regions of concern where we might see this potential kind of proliferation and make sure that they’re synthesized to and decide to take the political response to care about and focus on that particular threat.
This isn’t a U.S.-centric problem; this is a challenge that occurs in a number of regions that we track very closely.
In terms of the internal organization in this — in this administration today, I would say that the connectivity in that conversation is — is — is already joined and has been joined for a while. There are a number of interagency policy committee meetings on these topics per region and per country.
So, I think that there’s a strong focus. It might actually be a good question for one of your next speakers or our senior director, Laura Holgate, who’s intensely focused on that issue as well. But others may have compliments.
(UNKNOWN): Go ahead, Dominique.
ANELLI: Yes. Just regarding the chemical transfer, to answer to your question, chemical transfers (inaudible). I know little bit more than — than the PSI and the Australian group, all those.
Within the treaty, it’s — it’s engraved in the marble that, in fact, any transfer of Category I of — of Schedule 1 of chemical weapon is forbidden by the treaty.
And on this, we should remember the — the U.N. security resolution that for Syria (inaudible) such a transfer in order to destroy the chemical agent outside of Syria.
In addition of this Article I, which is clearly the — the — the — the pillar of the treaty, you have also the different articles regarding the industry verification, where, in fact, any — any transfer of some specific schedule of category has to be declared within the Technical Secretariat, and the Technical Secretariat is tracking, in fact, the transfer in between the different third party of such chemicals and when there is a discrepancy, upholds the two state parties and try to solve the discrepancies regarding such chemicals.
Sometimes — mainly what we have seen is that the — the understanding of the treaty by– by the two state parties are different regarding the result of chemicals that needs to be declared when transferred and so on.
So, it’s something that we address on a — on a weekly basis, transfer discrepancy within the state party. So, it’s some thing that we are trying to take care within the treaty.
And obviously, when you will have a complete universal adherence to the treaty and also a qualitative implementation of the treaty — qualitative, I would say by translating the treaty within the — your — your national law, these completely, I will say, close the loop and avoid any transfer of chemicals that might be used to produce chemical weapons.
WALKER: I’d — I would add — it’s important — it’s important that the treaty be fully implemented.
And one of the things — even though we have 190 countries in the treaty already — it’s the, you know, the biggest multilateral organization outside the United Nations, essentially — it still has a long way to go for national — what we call national implementation as well as universality.
But under national implementation, it means passing of a law, criminalizing the use of chemicals. It means reporting on exports and imports that Dominique mentioned. All of that reporting is lacking.
As much as we’d like it to be as accurate as possible, it really isn’t so much these days. I think the OPCW has a very hard time making those connections.
You talk about, you know, X country says it exported, you know, certain — certain tons of Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 chemicals to Y country, and Y country says it imported less than that somehow, or more than that. That goes on every week, actually, I think.
And so, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s one of the things those of us who work in chemical weapons, disarmament and verification issues have really tried to promote national implementation, particularly in the smaller countries, Middle East countries.
We just had a big State Department workshop, actually, with the Yemen, with leaders of chemical industry and leaders of — of CWC implementation in Yemen, and you know, you come away from those meetings realizing there’s a lot to be still done.
So, even though we’re all thinking about destruction of stockpiles, particularly the American and the Russian and — and now the Syrian, we really have to think more broadly about actually national fulfillment of the obligations of each — each of those 190 countries under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
And then I think trade — trade, to a large extent, will be — if the reporting is correct, will be largely controlled in scheduled chemicals, not particularly dual use or things like chlorine, but scheduled chemicals under the CWC.
KIMBALL: We are about out of time for this segment before we feed you all.
I wanted to ask a quick question, ask Dominique for a quick answer, if you can, about whether and how the OPCW, your team and the states parties are thinking about or planning for a lessons-identified exercise.
We know that — we’ve learned a lot from previous inspection and removal operations Iraq and elsewhere that have helped in the future. What are your thoughts about that, or what are the plans about that in the coming months and beyond?
ANELLI: Yes. Thank you for this question, because this will open in the future.
Obviously, Syria was — is a really great opportunity for the OPCW to improve its current work. So, we have a couple of lessons-learned exercises in order to build on this mission.
There is one led by (inaudible) is working on lessons learned from Syria.
You have another one, which is within the Technical Secretariat, lessons learned on Syria.
You have this one on maritime components of — as a Syrian mission, which, in fact, just started the work, and U.N. also — joint team made lessons-learned exercise in Cyprus in order to — to be prepared for another state party coming within the treaty under such very short notice.
So, we have a lot of lessons-learned exercises, but I will say, to come back to the previous panel where Ralf expressed some concern regarding the OPCW, so most difficult for us now OPCW is — as we are under the new policy, it means that after seven years, I will leave the treaty, I will leave the organization, the Technical Secretariat.
So, who am I going to — to transfer my knowledge? Only by computer to another person arriving behind me? So, I don’t think this is really feasible.
So, we have seen that the Technical Secretariat, the number of inspectors decreased from 175 to now 122 inspectors, which — which might be fine, because a lot of destruction site closed.
However, the key question now for us is how to maintain this culture on chemical weapon disarmament and how to be able to build that and to one engrave that within the treaty to be able to transfer that to the young inspectors that will come to OPCW and to the young CDB officer with a better accent than me that will come to — to — to the OPCW.
So, that’s a real challenge we are trying to build in but unfortunately without success for the time being.
KIMBALL: Thank you.
Well, as I said, it is time to close this session. I want to ask everyone to please join me in thanking the three speakers here.
WALKER: Hello, everybody. I think almost everyone has gotten their lunch now, and I gobbled down a little bit of lunch too as well thanks to Shervin. Thank you, Shervin.
So, I think we should move forward. We’re really — we’re really honored to have Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins here with us to give a keynote luncheon presentation.
So, I’d urge everyone to just quietly keep eating, and — and I know Bonnie will — will be able to speak over your munching as we — as we go forward.
So, let me introduce — introduce Bonnie. Bonnie is a — is a good colleague and friend, again, to many of us, I know, in the room.
She was — she was nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2009, what we call the honeymoon period of nominations, I guess, right, when we actually got some people confirmed up in the Senate, and confirmed by the Senate in June 2009. April, May, June — that’s only two months, so it was only a two-month — you didn’t have to go through the five-year waiting period now, right?
She is the department of state’s coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. She promotes the coordination of Department Of State cooperative threat reduction, what we all call CTR, and U.S. government in programs in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological security issues.
She also works closely with international partners in coordinating global CBRN security programs and funding to help ensure a coordinated approach when governments implement these programs internationally.
You didn’t hear my comments earlier, Bonnie, right, on some of the coordination issues? We — we can get to that later, I guess.
She is the U.S. representative to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction called Global Partnership, and she had the Global Partnership in 2012.
She is Department of State lead on the Nuclear Security Summit, and she coordinates the Department Of State’s activities relating to the four-year effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material.
Ambassador Jenkins is also engaged in the Global Health Security Agenda — you see on the — on the screen here — against reducing infectious disease threats around the world.
Prior to joining the U.S. government — some of you might no doubt know this — Ambassador Jenkins served as the program officer for U.S. foreign and security policy at the Ford Foundation in New York City. Her responsibilities included strengthening public engagement in U.S. foreign and security policy, and formulation and debates as well as funding programs and international engagement in the areas of peacekeeping, women in conflict, and natural resource conflicts.
Prior to joining the foundation, Ambassador Jenkins served as counsel on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, more commonly know as the 9/11 Commission, and she was the lead commission staff member on counter terrorism policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on U.S. military plans targeting Al Qaida prior to 9/11.
I would also add something many people probably don’t know. She is a retired Naval Reserve officer, and she completed a yearlong deployment to U.S. Central Command, what we call CENTCOM, and she has received numerous awards in her time as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves.
And the final little bit of intro I’ll — I’ll make is that she has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School. She’s assisted in designing and leading arms control and nonproliferation simulation courses at Stanford. She was a fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard, and during her years at the Belfer Center, she worked at Harvard Law School as well in the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising as an adviser to law students on legal jobs in the public sector.
She has a Ph.D. in international relations from University of Virginia, an LL.M in international and comparative law from Georgetown, an MPA from State University of New York at Albany, a J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.A. from Emerson College — that’s a lot of initials, Bonnie — and she also attended — she also attended the Hague Academy for International Law.
So we are really privileged to have her with us today, and I will turn the podium over to you, Bonnie. Thank you for coming.
JENKINS: Thank you Paul.
It’s great to be here. So many faces — friends that I’ve known for many years, friends I haven’t seen in a while — and good to connect with folks.
I am particularly happy to be here, because this is a conference that’s really honoring someone who I know — who I knew well, Jonathan Tucker, who was a colleague and who I think we all miss a great deal.
So when I was asked to be a part of this, there is no way I was not going to be a part of this. I was actually supposed to be in Ukraine right now in meetings, and I wanted to be here. I can always go back to Ukraine later.
So, it’s an honor to be here, and I’m going to say a few words about some of things I’m doing in the Global Partnership. I was actually asked to talk about some of the things that are going on in the chemical and biological sphere in the Global Partnership.
And a step away, I guess, we talked about Syria and the history of chemical weapons, so we’re going to talk a little bit more about what’s happening now in terms of looking at shifting to chemical security issues. And so the first part of my presentation, we’ll talk about that.
And then I will spend the second half moving to bio and talk about something that’s going on now with the Global Health Security Agenda, which actually incorporates biosecurity. And a lot of the way we’re thinking about biosecurity now is part of a larger — a larger conglomeration of health and security, and ways in which the health and security sectors need to work together to address infectious disease such as Ebola.
I believe most of you know what the Global Partnership is. It’s an initiative that was established initially under the G8, which is, of course, now the G7, in 2002, and its basic mission is to fund projects and programs in the area of CBRN security and prevent CBRN terrorism.
It was supposed to be a 10-year effort — $20 billion, with $10 billion from the U.S. matched by $10 billion by our partners — to end in 2012, but in 2011, the part — the G8 leaders — the then G8 leaders agreed to extend the — the Global Partnership beyond 2012 and to do a number of other things like look at more than just what was occurring at the time, and I’ll get into this a little bit.
It was focused predominantly in destroying Russian nuclear submarines and Russian chemical weapons. That was the first 10 years of the partnership. And now, it’s expanded to do a lot more CBRN and work around the world and not just some one particular region.
It also now has 28 members. Chile just joined this week. So, we now have 28 members of the Global Partnership. And so, we do like the fact that we are able to start getting representation from other parts of the world and other regions to work on these important areas of CBRN security.
So moving into the chemical area first, this slide, of course, is about the bio, so there’s no — there’s no chem slide.
And I don’t have PowerPoint slides, so I don’t know if it’s good or bad for some of you who like PowerPoint slides or not. But I decided for this one I wouldn’t do PowerPoint slides.
We have witnessed a changing landscape in global security and nonproliferation in the past years, including the areas of nuclear radiological security, biosecurity, and chemical security and safety.
One of the gravest concerns, of course, that developed in the recent years is the threat of non-state actors. And terrorist groups state their interest in using CBR in weapons.
The Chemical Weapons Convention was developed to prevent states from manufacturing, acquiring, and using chemical weapons. Its rules (inaudible) extensive adherence, which now includes 190 state parties, have been effective in creating the environment where chemical weapons are viewed as anathema to the world community. However, the CWC is less effective in preventing non-state actors from using chemical weapons.
In order to have a significant impact, a non-state actor does not need the kind of chemical quantities that a typical possessor state historically produced and stockpiled. Aum Shinrikyo, the organization that used sarin in the Tokyo subway in 1995, only used several one-liter plastic bags of low purity sarin in three subway train lines. This killed over 10 people and injured thousands.
The ability of a rogue group like this to have such an effect with so little chemical agent is what makes this possibility of chemical terrorism so frightening and is what makes securing CW agents and their precursors against non-state actors so challenging.
In addition, non-state actors have demonstrated the willingness to use ordinary toxic industrial chemicals as chemical warfare agents. This was the case with Aum Shinrikyo using hydrogen cyanide. But also we saw similar use by the Taliban as they allegedly used pesticides on young girls going to school in Afghanistan.
To protect against misuse of chemicals by non-state actors who obtain chemicals through deception, threat, theft, or diversion, all users of chemicals — universities, research facilities, chemical warehouses and manufacturers — must routinely take security measures in order to protect the public.
In research facilities and universities where there are many chemicals but in small quantities, one effective tool is an inventory system coupled with locking labs and chemical stockrooms where unattended. But the chemical inventory system is key and can assist in detecting when a chemical has gone missing and how much.
The biggest vulnerability for acquisition of chemicals by non-state actors is in this chemical supply chain in the distribution system. Chemicals are ordinarily manufactured in large quantities and distributed in smaller quantities by chemical distributor companies. Often, chemicals go through number of distributors before they are sold to an end user. Where you have legislation tracking chemicals and voluntary security standards used by chemical distributors, there is greater security.
The most important security practices performed by a chemical distributor are to know the company or university or person it is selling to and verify the buyer’s legitimacy. And Internet sales — as Internet sales have increased, so has the risk of a terrorist organization creating a show company to order the chemical weapons — the chemical it needs.
Chemical storage security is also an issue. Warehouses where chemicals are stored for distribution of sale are vulnerable to theft. Physical security measures are thus necessary to prevent theft. Also, vetting of employees is valuable for assuring that there is no internal diversion of chemicals.
A growing vulnerability in the chemical supply chain is the increasing number of contract manufacturing companies, normally referred to as toll manufacturers. These are companies that regularly synthesize chemicals requested by their customers. The volume produced by these contract synthesis companies can range anywhere from less than a gram to tons. Although a toll manufacturer is unlikely to make a chemical weapon agent for a client, you could easily be asked to create a specialty precursor chemical to allow the non-state actor to then finish the task of making a hazardous or toxic chemical for use as a weapon.
Another vulnerable part of the chemical chain which non-state actors may try to target is the transportation of chemicals, the risk that the materials could be stolen and later used in an attack or used or precursor to make even more dangerous chemicals. Conditions for transportation of hazardous chemicals in the United States are regulated by the Department of Transportation. This helps ensure that the movement of dangerous chemicals is carried out in a secure and careful manner.
Such regulations regarding transportation should be a part of every country’s regulations, but also should include personal training, written operating procedures, information about the chemical hazards and proper emergency response to accidents, and equipment inspections. A secure and protected container should be used.
When scheduled or hazardous chemicals are transported, a GPS tracking system can be extremely helpful. These things may seem like common sense to you and me, but these practices are still lacking in many developing countries across the globe.
National implementation of chemical safety and security practices will allow state parties to better address the threat non-state actors pose. Increasing cooperation and exchanges of information is one way to strengthen the security of chemicals in a chemical supply chain to prevent theft or misuse.
Such actions also help avoid duplication of efforts and resources, which is especially critical austere times. Also, many developing countries have less experience with chemical security than developed company — countries. And it is important that the large multinational chemical companies share their experiences and lessons learned with developing countries so that risk-based security measures can be identified and incorporated.
International discussions focused on best practices regarding chemical safety have began in The Hague using the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as a forum for sharing such efforts. The OPCW hosts promote global cooperation in decreasing the chemical threat by promoting awareness of chemical security and safety, training, exchange of best practices, and fostering cooperation between chemical professionals and the promotion of global chemical security culture.
This forum has the potential to expand to a global gathering engaging the international community, including governments, chemical industries, science, academia and nongovernmental organizations to enhance chemical security and a more global chemical security culture.
To mitigate the risk posed by chemical weapons, chemical security best practices must be implemented across the world, from the large manufacturing facilities down to the small research laboratories. Sharing knowledge, innovative security methods, and establishing a chemical security culture will move us closer to a world safer from the threat of non-state actors seeking to use chemicals as weapons.
The expense of security measures of multinational chemical companies may be well beyond the financial abilities of small and medium enterprises of the chemical industry. But building a culture of chemical security is within everyone’s reach. Knowledge and experience can go a long way to help improve chemical security in developing countries. Innovative security methods and creation of a culture will enable us to live in a much more peaceful world.
As I noted, the role of industry in chemical security is extremely important. To mitigate the risk posed by chemical weapons, chemical safety and security must be implemented across the world. And it lies in large manufacturing facilities to small labs.
In recognizing its importance, my office has been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and doing outreach to industry. DHS has hosted with my office meetings with a small number of industry representatives to help bring a better understanding from industries or facilities overseas about how countries overseas and others are practicing chemical security.
We have also begun to incorporate chemical security into our discussions at the Global Partnership. We have done this by establishing the Global Partnership Chemical Security Sub-Working Group. This sub-working group was established in 2012 under the U.S. chairmanship of the G.P. And Ukraine and Poland are the current chairs of the sub-working group.
In the past months, the sub-working group has been working on a potential strategy for a way forward. So this strategy can include but are not limited to some of the following features:
One, enhancing global chemical safety and security culture, recognizing that security culture facilities facilitates facilities implementation and management of safety is very important.
Two, fostering national, regional and global initiatives on chemical security aimed at preventing and/or responding to the misuse of chemicals and reducing the chemical threat.
Three, strengthening and supporting the enforcement of chemical nonproliferation instruments and standards, and preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons.
Four, enhancing the security of chemicals in transit, recognizing that a comprehensive approach to chemical security includes the security of chemicals through transportation networks.
And, five, establishing and achieving a minimum baseline of chemical security in all nations.
These efforts in chemical security build upon the work already accomplished in the Global Partnership in the areas of chemical weapons destruction. As most of you know, for the first 10 years of the Global Partnership, the focus was on the destruction of Russian nuclear submarines and Russian chemical weapons.
In this respect, the Global Partnership members have made an important contribution to the construction of chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia. For example, the G.P. assisted in the construction of facilities in Kisner. This was a true partnership. And in one case, over a dozen G.P. countries helped to build a facility.
In 2011, Global Partnership assessment and options document for future programming, it set the stage for the agreement by the G-8 leaders regarding the extension of the G.P. In that document, it says, quote, “Should new chemical weapon challenges emerge, the G-8” — which is now the G-7 — “could implement effective and appropriate measures to address these issues,” end quote.
Little did we know that Syria would happen years later. In that respect, many G.P. countries funded the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.
In fulfilling the commitment to address new challenges, the G.P. member nations will continue to help with the funding of these challenges, such as cases in Syria, but also focusing on new challenges posed by issues of chemical security.
The Global Partnership will continue to promote international discussions on global chemical security and in promoting global cooperation in decreasing the chemical threat by promoting awareness of chemical security and safety, training, exchange of best practices, and fostering cooperation.
Yesterday and today, the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Center for Chemical Safety and Security in Poland and the government of Ukraine are hosting an international meeting on the capabilities and the domain of chemical safety security in Ukraine and the development of an integrated chemical safety and security program.
The conference is examining such issues as a transit development in chemical safety and security, promoting development of national/international expertise in training in the area of chemical safety and security, and building sustainable approaches at national and international levels to mitigate the threats of misuse of toxic chemicals.
OK, that ends chemical. Shift your mind. And I’ll answer questions on both of these when I get to the end.
OK, moving on biosecurity, here I will focus on the Global Health Security Agenda, which incorporates work in the area of biosecurity and is an area the Global Partnership has engaged.
In the past few years, there has been much more of a convergence in the areas of biosecurity and health. There’s a recognition that reducing the risk presented by natural, accidental or deliberate origin requires that the use of all instruments of national power, close coordination among all sectors of government, and effective partnerships among public and private institutions, both nationally and internationally, is necessary.
This has been manifested in international discussions, such as in the Global Partnership, where, since 2012, the then newly established Global Partnership Biosecurity Sub-working Group began to expand its discussions of biosecurity to include human and animal health and to invite in to Global Partnership meetings such international organizations as the World Health Organization, the Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization, in addition to Interpol and the BWC Implementation Support Unit.
In 2012, the Global Partnership agreed to five biosecurity deliverables, or activities, to be annually reviewed and the outcomes assessed after a period of five years. This agreement was not only with the Global Partnership members, but also the relevant international organizations.
The five deliverables included such issues as securing and accounting for materials that represent biological proliferation risks, maintaining appropriate and effective measures to prevent and prepare for and respond to the deliberate use of biological agents, and strengthen national and global networks to rapidly identify, confirm and respond to biological attacks.
One will find in many of the Global Health Security Agenda or GHSA efforts, areas of focus that are in the 2012 Global Partnership biosecurity deliverables.
The Global Health Security Agenda, or GHSA, is an effort by nations, international organizations and civil society to accelerate progress until the world is safe and secure from infectious disease threats, whether natural, accidental or deliberate in origin.
GHSA promotes global health security as an international priority. Its goal is to also spur progress toward full implementation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, which the vast majority of states have not been able to implement.
For those of you who do not know, the IHRs are legally binding regulations that aim to, one, assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the spread of disease and other health risks, and, two, avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.
The purpose of the scope of IHRs are to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with the restriction, restricted to public health risks.
However, the fact that only — that less than 30 percent of nations have been able to implement the IHRs, was the reason the U.S. launched Global Health Security Agenda in early 2014, which, incidentally, was before the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The overarching target of GHSA is, as follows, over the next five years, the U.S. commits to working with at least 30 partner countries to prevent, detect and effectively respond to infectious disease threats. Many have asked why now? Of course, this was asked before the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Today, we don’t get that question anymore.
However, even before the outbreak, it was clear that in today’s increasingly connected world, we remained vulnerable. No one nation can achieve global health security on its own. The vitality of the global community economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people.
And 11 years ago, SARS cost $30 billion in only four months. And the anthrax attacks of 2001 infected 22 people and killed five, and cost more than $1 billion to clean up.
On February 13, 2014, over 30 national representatives met in Washington, D.C., and in Geneva to launch the Global Health Security Agenda. The meeting was chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius and Assistant to the President Lisa Monaco. In Geneva, the event was chaired by the WHO director general, Margaret Chan. There were also representatives from New Delhi and Rome, where we were also videotaped. The director generals of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Animal Health were also present.
It was highlighted at that time that the GHSA effort is multi-sectorial and brings in the health, security, development and defense sectors.
In this respect, in the U.S., the NSC leads this effort and the interagency discussions include Health and Human Services, CDC, State Department, DOD, FBI, USAID and USDA.
The work of GHSA is centered around the three focus areas of prevent, detect and respond. As a means of focus on the implementation of GHSA, the members have developed action packages, of which there are 11 that span the three areas of prevent, detect and respond.
The action packages are to translate political support into action and continue to recruit countries to join. The packages facilitate regional and global collaboration toward specific GHSA objectives and targets.
All countries that support GHSA participate in one or more of the action packages and are asked to consider specific commitments across the areas on a national, regional or global scale.
Each of the 11 action packages has a five-year target. This is how to measure the work, what is the desired impact, who are the leading contributing countries and contributing organizations, and the actual actions themselves.
Examples of action packages include the biosafety and biosecurity action package, the immunization action package, zoonotic disease action package, and the action package to link public health and law in a multi-sectoral rapid response.
Several global meetings and discussions led up to the September 26th GHSA White House event where high-level representatives from over 44 countries announced over 100 new commitments to prevent, detect and respond to biological threats worldwide.
For the U.S., attendees included President Obama, National Security Adviser Rice, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Monaco, Secretaries Burwell, Kerry and Hagel, Director of Center for Disease Control Dr. Frieden, and, of course, WHO Director-General Chan.
At the event, Obama said, we have to prevent outbreaks by reducing risks. We need to detect threats immediately when they arise. And we need to respond rapidly and effectively when we see something happening so that we have — so we can save lives and avert even larger outbreaks.
Prior to the September event, on September 25th, there was NGO-GHSA meeting at the George Washington University School of Public Health with over 300 NGO participants. The event highlighted the multi-central and multi-societal approaches of GHSA. It was an opportunity to share views of the current state of GHSA and to identify priorities going forward for the NGOs.
It was funded by several foundations. And the lesson learned from the event is that there’s a great deal of work going on outside the government. So much so that it was difficult to capture it all succinctly.
However, it was noted that information sharing is a first step to gaining a better understanding of what the NGOs are all doing in the GHSA space and that continued engagement between the NGOs and government must continue.
A coordinated mechanism has been established for the GHSA going forward. A steering committee of 10 countries chaired by Finland will provide continued high-level oversight and political support to ensure acceleration. The chair will rotate annually, and the WHO, FAO and OIE will serve as permanent advisers. NGOs, including development banks and foundations, also serve as advisers upon invitation.
Action package leaders will lead implementation of each of the action packages into right progress. Several Global Partnership members are part of the GHSA, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Germany, which currently chairs the Global Partnership this year and next year, has noted the importance of biosecurity during its chairmanship as well as its intent to focus on GHSA throughout 2015. Biosecurity programs that Global Partnership members are engaged are not only Global Partnership programs now, but they also implement the action packages of the GHSA.
In addition, a great — and finally — in addition, a great deal of the participation at the September 26th White House event was based on diplomatic outreach to our Global Partnership member representatives who then engaged their ministries of health on the importance of the Global Health Security Agenda.
And our newest Global Partnership member, Chile, is on the steering committee of the GHSA. Therefore, regarding the biosecurity aspect of the Global Partnership, there will be close engagement and support of the Global Health Security Agenda.
Finally, I just want to note that last night, the — excuse me, the House bill was passed which included approximately $600 million within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to significantly expand U.S. activities and support of the Global Health Security Agenda.
In addition, separately, the Departments of Defense, State, USDA and USAID are also funding — have also — also have funding requests in the F.Y. 2015 presidential budget for programs that report the — support the GHSA objectives.
So, with that, thank you for listening to a long presentation. But I did want to cover both chemical and biological before I sat down. So, thank you so much.
WALKER: Thank you very much, Bonnie, I think you’ve put these both together very well.
And I think, as we know, the Global Partnership has been since 2002 a really very strong vehicle for a lot of money, a lot of projects. And as you said, $20 billion, half from the United States and half from all the other partners. And I’m also pleased to hear that Chile has now joined in.
We have a few minutes, we have probably seven or eight minutes, I think, for questions and answers and comments, if anyone has a question.
I would start off first by asking, you know, the Global Partnership we all know was very key in the early 2000s, 2002 to probably 2010, in many of the projects, nonproliferation projects we worked on, in chem and bio but also nuclear — nuclear and fissile material, particularly in the former Soviet Union.
And I’m wondering today, you know, we’re now two years past the original decade commitment of everybody. Is today, the money the same? Or I would guess the money is less, and we don’t see really, you know, $20 billion over 10 years, which should be, what, at least $2 billion a year.
I’m wondering, is the funding still adequate and projects still going forward, and are the two dozen odd, you know, members of the G.P. still very active?
JENKINS: Yes, the — the — the work is still going forward. In fact, in the bio area, for example, Germany has made some major commitments in the area of biosecurity, which was — which was great, because they were one of the countries we had to twist their arm at that time to agree to extension, and now that the G.P. has been extended, they’ve been putting a lot more money into it.
The nuclear work still continuing. Because of the GHSA, you’re getting a lot more countries starting to put money toward — toward issues.
Chemical security is starting to get more attention, so as a result, there’s an interest in doing more in that area.
So I, you know — before we had the number $20 billion, we — I don’t, you know — we haven’t been counting it like we did before to see exactly how much, and we didn’t do our usual — we do an annex every year. We didn’t do in this year, because Russia was supposed to be the chair this year, and because of the problems that happened and Germany took over halfway, through the year, we kind of have to redo our annex starting next year to get a sense of how much we’re spending.
But it’s a little more difficult to figure out, because before, we were doing big projects. We were doing — destroying Russian nuclear submarines and building chemical weapons destruction facilities.
But now, the projects are a lot smaller, they’re around the globe, so it’s harder to get that sense of how much is happening. But the things are happening. They’re just not happening in one — in these big pots of money anymore.
They’re, you know, somebody doing a biosecurity activity in Kenya or somebody doing a chemical security activity in — in Morocco or somebody doing something on — on — on — on securing nuclear materials someplace, you know, facilities.
So the type of programs have changed, so it’s hard to get a sense — that easier sense where you can look at a big pocket and say, “OK, we spent a whole lot of money to build this facility.” But it’s still — it’s still continuing.
And I think of anything, because of, you know, the Nuclear Security Summit, because of this effort, the Global Security Agenda, because the interest now in chemical security, you know, there’s been more of an interest now in — in the types of programs. It feels a little more organized now, actually.
WALKER: Are there — are there questions in the audience at all on Global — you’ve all participated, I think, in a number of Global Partner programs, I know.
Yes, right in the middle here, yeah?
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Gabrielle Matuzsan. I’m with START from the University of Maryland.
I actually have a question about chemical security as it pertains to non-state — non-state actors. You very briefly mentioned how the vetting of employees at chemical facilities is very important, and we’ve identified in our research that the insider threat is something that hasn’t had too much focus along the entire supply chain from manufacturer (inaudible).
And I wonder if you could share your thoughts on that topic and if standards that exist now are enough to combat that threat, both here and internationally.
JENKINS: Yes. I agree. The insider threat is — is a problem not just in the chemical area but in other areas.
And you know, we’ve, you know — from my — from my understanding, you know, you have the big manufacturers like Dow, which have done a very good job in terms of chemical security issues. As a matter of fact, we often have a representative from Dow come with us on some of our international meetings and talk about — and talk about what they’ve done.
The problem is outside the U.S. when you have a lot of small manufacturing facilities and companies that don’t have the same type of — you know, we have small ones here. I mean, what happened in West Texas, for example, the big explosion there? I mean, you know, even our smaller industries here aren’t — don’t do — aren’t as — don’t have much as security as — as we would like.
So, a lot of the focus really has been on the smaller — smaller industries, because that’s where you see a lot of the security lacking, including in insider threat issues.
WALKER: Yeah, I think or also what you mentioned about a culture of safety and security, I mean, I think personal training programs and just building really what we’ve in general called the culture of security and safety is extremely important as well.
Part of the OPCW mission we’ve talked about this morning is really promoting peaceful uses of chemistry. So as you promote peaceful uses of chemistry in regional workshops and training programs, I think the issue always of — of personal reliability, screening issues — this was raised a few weeks ago, as I say, when — a few — a couple of months ago when we did this training program for Yemeni industry officials and government officials was very important too.
So — but that’s, you know — that sort of never ends. I think you can keep — keep doing it amongst 190 odd countries, you know, but I think you just have to repeat it every few years and keep reminding people.
It’s also, I’ve found a big issue around border security and safety too, because you find a lot of — there’s a lot of smuggling of chemicals. There’s smuggling in everything, but there’s a lot of smuggling in chemicals too, particularly in the developing areas, and I think that’s — around the Middle East in particular.
And that tends to be a big — a big danger, I think, as well for subnational, you know — non-state actors getting ahold of toxic, dangerous chemicals.
Other — other questions? Yes? Right here in the middle? If you can — yeah.
QUESTION: I’m Terry Hopmann from Johns Hopkins, SAIS.
I’d like to ask you about the administration’s view now of the Biological Weapons Convention and its connection to all of this. As you know, when the Biological Weapons Convention was signed in 1972, it had no provisions for verification based on the assumption, at that time, presumably that no rational state actor would ever use biological weapons in an interstate war. But now, we’re living in a world where almost all conflicts are intrastate and involve non-state actors.
And after having pulled out of the negotiations in the early 2000s in the beginning of the Bush administration to try to add a verification provision to the BWC, and essentially having undermined that process here in United States, I wonder why the current administration, given your efforts, has not tried to revitalize this process and — and try to make the BWC somehow a more effective instrument, perhaps learning some lessons from the experience with the Chemical Weapons Convention?
JENKINS: Thank you.
Actually, as I — I look around the room, it’s — I don’t particularly — I don’t work on BWC, but I wonder if my colleague, Ken Ward, would say a few words. He — he works on these issues at my — at the State Department, so he follows a lot more than I do on BWC, particularly.
Thank you, Ken.
(UNKNOWN): Putting Ken on the spot there.
WARD: I have the distinction of being the U.S. deputy head of delegation for six years with the Biological Weapons Convention protocol.
When I came back from Geneva after six years, my cholesterol was at 302. The doctor said, “What have you been eating,” and I said, “Well, the Swiss are trying to kill me with dairy products.” But thankfully, through a change in diet and some pills, I’m under 200 where I’m supposed to be.
The dilemma we face with the Biological Weapons Convention is everything, everything is dual use.
There are 25,000 facilities in the United States where you could accurately say if they wanted to make biological weapons, they could. Dangerous pathogens are in all of these labs. Go to G.W., Georgetown — the technology is everywhere.
And the belief was that trying to build false confidence that we could verify that countries did not have this capability was not going to serve anybody’s interest.
Also, it was kind of an irony, historically, that two months after the United States backed away from the BWC protocol, we had 9/11 followed by the anthrax letters. And what we realized then was the BWC protocol was a phony solution to the wrong problem. Bioterrorism is the real threat that we face, and as the president has pointed out, we’re just as easily to be done in by a naturally occurring pathogen as we are by a deliberately used one.
I think the president’s global health initiative is the right approach, and it’s a taking advantage of a part of the Biological Weapons Convention Article X that deals with cooperation. Countries need to work around the world to deal with threats, whether they be natural or deliberate in origin, and the reality is we may not know for weeks or months which kind we’re dealing with.
And it’s no consolation to someone when they die of a horrible disease to tell them, “Don’t worry, it wasn’t a deliberate attack. It was natural.”
So, I think the administration has put the focus in the right place. There are countries out there that are pressing for a return to it, but their agenda tends to be a radical one not of dealing with the threat of biological weapons but trying to dismantle the export control regime that the United States and other countries have developed to ensure these dangerous technologies don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Like you, I — I wish there had been a treaty solution to it, but the biological weapons problem turned out to be so much bigger than any protocol was ever going to be able to resolve.
I hope that answers your question, and Bonnie, back to you.
JENKINS: Thanks — thanks, Ken.
WALKER: Pass the football back up here.
We’re overtime now, just a few minutes, not too bad actually. So I think what we should do is we should stop and move onto the next panel, because we still have a couple of events this afternoon.
So with that, I would like us all to give a hand to Ambassador Jenkins, and thank you very much, Bonnie, for coming.
ZANDERS: Good afternoon. Can I ask you to slowly take your chairs again?
ZANDERS: Oh, this is wonderfully quiet all of a sudden.
OK. This morning in the various panels on chemical weapon-related issues, we’ve heard that the OPCW, the Chemical Weapons Convention and its organization face quite a few challenges. But I wonder whether this audience actually realizes in what a pickle the OPCW will find itself.
As you may remember from a couple of weeks ago, the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet in our solar system, and some of the signs, chemical analysis that it sent back to Earth, is that actually, the most prominent chemical is a Schedule 3 chemical on the list of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
You know, Dominique Anelli is here, our French colleague, and I have to ask him, Dominique, how is it possible that France put vincennite on that comet?
Now, vincennite is a World War I chemical warfare agent better known as hydrogen cyanide, and it happens there. However, the question here, in this town in particular, can terrorists get access to it? Could they bring it back to Earth? Can the OPCW verify this?
OK. Let’s get a bit down to Earth more.
There are a number of challenges facing the Chemical Weapons Convention. Of course, one of the issues probably going to be discussed in the session is the whole question of the budget. I mean, we’ve already heard this morning how numbers of inspectors, critical people within the organization, are being reduced.
And it’s really interesting how budget management techniques are being applied to the OPCW, and yet, if we think of it, the budget of the organization today is actually less than the purchase price of two F-16 fighters.
If you think of the Syrian operation, the whole cost probably equals that of five F-16 fighters. If the United States, France and United Kingdom had gone bombing instead of disarming Syria, that amount of money would have been spent on a single sortie over the country without a single chemical weapon having been removed from that country.
So a key question here is, why do states actually doubt the return on investment in security they get from participating in the Chemical Weapons Convention?
Besides the budget, there are also a variety of other challenges that the organization is going to face and is facing. Of course, one the topics we’re going to address this afternoon is destruction of chemical weapons. We have already seen that both United States and Russia are badly behind schedule here.
However, it’s not just the arsenal of the former two superpowers in the Cold War period that are at issue. We also have to face the question of abandoned chemical weapons, you know, one state party having left at some time, in a not-too-distant part, chemical munitions on the territory of another state party.
The most prominent question is the one between Japan and China, a legacy from the Second World War. But even so, there’s still the discussion of American chemical munitions in the Panama Canal about which nobody seems to be talking right now.
Legacy issues will stay. In my own country in Belgium, we still find about 10 tons — 10 metric tons of chemical munitions from the First World War on average per year, which need to be addressed.
And then I’m not yet talking about the increasing talk about the commercial exploitation of the seabed. As you are probably aware, sin many parts, many oceans, many waterways, chemical munitions were dumped after the First and Second World Wars. And because of looking for a new resources or putting cables on the seabed, these dump sites are being disturbed and creating a variety of risks.
The environmental aspect is just one concern here. However, the CWC basically encourages states to leave the chemical munitions on the water. If they are surfaced, whose property will they be?
Are they going to be the property of the countries who actually produced them? Are they the property of the country that removed them and dumped them? This is going to raise a host of legal issues if that becomes part of the routine in the near future.
And then I haven’t yet spoken about Article VI that relates to industry verification and the transfer of chemicals, nor to issues on Article XI regarding international cooperation and how people can be certain that transferred technologies are used for the peaceful purposes, and Article X on chemical safety and security.
With that introduction, I would first like to introduce a good friend of mine, Peter Sawzcak. We seem to be seating all over the world lately together, even enjoying strong coffees at the airport at 3 o’clock in the morning.
But Peter is head of government relations and political affairs at the OPCW. He is one of the key people responsible for universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention trying to convince the states that are but do not wish to be in the company of North Korea to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.
And the second speaker is going to be Mr. Craig Williams, who has been very active in raising awareness inside the United States concerning environmental risks to the destruction of chemical weapons.
With that Peter, I give the microphone to you.
SAWZCAK: Thank you very much, Jean Pascal, including for your company over late night coffees in various airports around the world.
I really appreciate your introduction, as I’m sure my colleagues and the Technical Secretariat also do, because you highlighted budgetary concerns and a whole shopping list of things that we need to do. So, thank you very much for that.
But what was most extraordinary in that shopping list was what you’ve started with. Now that we are going to have interplanetary reach, we must have more resources, I’m sure, in the Technical Secretariate.
So before I start off, I’d certainly like to pass on sincere best wishes for this event from the director general who would’ve liked to have been here.
He, unlike myself, knew personally Jonathan Tucker. He met him. But that’s not to say I don’t know Jonathan Tucker, as a lot of us here, through his publications. Certainly, he left a very strong legacy for us all to build on, and I hope that some of the recent international recognition for chemical disarmament in the shape of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the — the success of the Syria mission help honor that legacy.
The topic here is demilitarization. I’m going to take a very broad understanding of this.
For me and for the OPCW, I think it means three things: first of all, destroying existing stocks of chemical weapons as well as the production facilities that created them, or converting them to civilian use, secondly, preventing new chemical weapons from being built, and thirdly, to make chemical weapons unwanted.
So, the way we achieve this through the work of the OPCW, based on the very comprehensive regime we have in the form of the Chemical Weapons Convention, of course, is the — is an interlocking holistic regime which is based on the four pillars of disarmament, nonproliferation, assistance and protection, and peaceful uses, promoting peaceful uses of chemistry.
These aren’t linear pillars. We don’t do, you know, one thing, then we do the next thing then the next thing; we do them all together, because disarmament is more than simply removing the recourse of states through particular weapons. We need to make the weapons I mentioned before unwanted.
So this is a huge task and I think we’re well served by the reach and unique provisions of our treaty, which you’re all familiar with. We already heard today about the success we’ve had on the disarmament side. We are now at the point where we verified the destruction of 87 percent of declared weapons across 98 percent of the world’s territory and population, which is an extraordinary achievement, you know, in these 17 years.
We are now at the point where complete destruction, verified destruction, of existing stocks is something within — very much within our grasp. It’s not something for future generations; it’s something that we’re planning for and to achieve shortly.
And we, of course, do have legacy issues, as Jean Pascal mentioned. I wasn’t going to go into abandoned chemical weapons and all the chemical weapons, but this is, of course, ongoing work, which will continue not because we have the stockpiles all identified, because some of these things are still being unearthed, and this is something we need to be alert to, of course.
Now, this is the routine business — has been the routine business of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the work of the OPCW. We also showed destruction in a new light with the exceptional mission of Syria that we’ve all heard about here today.
Now, verifying the destruction of the chemical weapons arsenal is, of course, routine business. But as we’ve seen today, there was absolutely nothing routine about the circumstances in, which we did that in Syria or in relation to the Syrian program on Syrian territory and elsewhere.
In less than a year, we basically removed and destroyed 98 percent of the declared stockpile. What’s important, I think — I won’t run through the mission again, but I think we need to — in terms of how we frame lessons learned — pull — extract some vital observations from this entire mission.
The first one is that we didn’t need especially a mandated ad hoc international arrangement of any sort, as we have had in the past with other commodities of this nature. We had the CWC, which is ready-made, tried and tested and was able to insert itself straight away as soon as Syria exceeded for the convention.
Now, this is very important to note. It shows the resilience of the convention even in these source of circumstances.
But we also showed quite a lot of flexibility. Some of these issues have already been raise here today, but I draw your attention to a few of these.
These factors are a very important, because they show that they were able to come to the fore — in the course of this mission, because the Chemical Weapons Convention has such a strong consensus, and we saw that consensus, obviously, in response to the opportunity to demilitarize Syria chemically.
So we had flexibility in interpreting the CWC. The CWC states that possessive states are obliged to destroy chemical weapons on their own territory at their own cost. We made an exception in Syria’s case, at Syria’s request, to remove those weapons and destroy them outside Syrian territory.
So this showed the flexibility that states’ parties were able to show to seize an opportunity that obviously doesn’t come across very often.
Secondly, we are able to succeed on the basis of a very well-coordinated international mission. At no point did we have any problems getting countries to subscribe to the mission in terms of in-kind or financial assistance.
We were also able to coordinate this effort very efficiently, both at The Hague and obviously through the joint mission. Our partnership with the U.N., we had an existing partnership agreement. We had a special one for this mission, because our inspectors have not before deployed to war situations. U.N. support was vital in terms of field support, logistics and more than anything else, security support.
Negotiating access, for instance, to areas that weren’t controlled by the government had to be done by the U.N. under special arrangements only they have in place.
We also were able to exhibit a lot of technical innovation. Now, for whatever political or apparent environmental concerns, we weren’t able to get a land-based destruction option. We came up with a sea-based option using a tried and tested system at FDHS, as we heard today.
We were also able to get GPS-mounted remote cameras to sites to which we couldn’t get physical access in order to undertake some very important verification activity. And by the way, this sort of — this sort of innovation we did through comparing those with the IAEA for instance.
And finally, an important thing to remember also is that we were able to explore a private-public partnership in relation to destruction to some of the toxic chemicals involved in a chemical weapons program of Syria.
We were able to go to commercial tender in order to get Ekokem in Finland and Veolia here in the U.S. to — and destroy some of the chemicals under commercial arrangements. Now, this is obviously a good business for them, but by the same token it sets a nice precedent, I think, for the private sector to take a more prominent role in security as we’ve seen with other nontraditional multilateral challenges, whether it’s in relation to climate change or alleviation of poverty or child vaccination, immunization. So we think this is an important precedent. So, these are all aspects of the mission that showed extraordinary flexibility based on strong political will.
Now, these achievements are important not only for future scenarios in relation to chemical weapons, demilitarization, but any sort of WMD arsenal being gotten rid off, because this hasn’t been done before simply, and we need to draw lessons more widely.
I don’t think any of us here could have predicted, as much as Simon showed us, the contingency planning that was under way. State was obviously on the wrong basis that there would be complying government that would be working with the OPCW to get rid of chemical weapons in quiet time.
We had entirely different scenario that appeared and none of us could have predicted it, but we were able to respond very, very quickly, and mercifully, we did. So that’s important.
It’s also important that we maintain that readiness not only for future scenarios like this, however likely or unlikely they may be, but for the follow-up work.
Now, Dominique, in his presentation today, mentioned that we still have ongoing work with Syria in relation to filling out his declaration in order to complete the destruction of structures that housed production facilities and, importantly, the work of the fact-finding mission, whatever the politics involved in relation to the allegations and the — and confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria. And there is still a lot of materials that go through, and states parties’ have continued their support for the ongoing work of that mission.
Now, Syria has been, like the Nobel Peace Prize, something that’s really brought us out in the international limelight. I mean, the way I described — I’ve only — I actually joined the OPCW when Syria did, so it was very good timing in terms of a profile, and the few weeks thereafter we got a Nobel Peace Prize, of course.
The way I always describe perhaps and what we did and what my job was that — if you imagine the world’s stage and in the world theater housing the world stage, I mean, the OPCW with the guys and gals in gray overalls, not necessary very clean, that were behind the scenes, making sure the lights work, that the plumbing wasn’t too loud during performances. But they were behind the scenes. And suddenly, with a Nobel Prize, they were pushed onto the center stage and said, “Talk — to us. This is your opportunity.”
So, in some ways we’ve had to sort of come up with the text to explain our mission. But certainly, Syria is — couldn’t have done it better frankly. I mean, we really seized that opportunity with the international community.
But Syria, in some ways, has focused attention on the sort of business that we’re getting out off. As I mentioned before, we’re getting close to completing destruction of declared weapons, and we need to focus on what comes next.
So, I would just describe that broadly as two sets of challenges. One’s from within the OPCW. The others from without.
The first relates to a process of transition as our main focus gradually shifts from disarmament to nonproliferation, or what I prefer to call preventing the reemergence of chemical weapons, because, of course, nonproliferation means — can mean quite specific things — preventing chemical, sensitive chemical materials and technologies from making their way around the world. It’s much more than that. It means monitoring advances in chemistry — chemical sciences as well as conversions with other sciences and — and the new production technology. It means being alert to these — to these risks. Now, this is a qualitatively harder exercise and one which obviously won’t be as publicly visible.
The second set of challenges relates to changes in the strategic environment, which we’re all very familiar with. The globalization of the chemical industry will have an impact on how and where we conduct our routine inspections down the track and how we do that.
Secondly, advances in science and technology, as I’ve just mentioned challenge — could challenge the implementation of the CWC. Thirdly, the ambitions and actions of non-state actors, of course, is very topical, and lastly, rapid advances in digital communications are making intangible technology transfers a real worry in terms of access to sensitive information technology.
So, how these two sets of challenges intertwine is very much our minds as we chart our strategic direction for the organization.
One way we’re doing this — and I might just go through a bit of shopping list here, and we can discuss that later in more detail where there are points of interest — but we just recently had our conference-of-states parties, and there, the director general mentioned that we are working on a paper.
When we were preparing statement, we didn’t know what to call it. You know, a vision paper, a concept paper, a corporate vision. A short document that sets out where we need to be right through to the middle of the next decade.
Now, this is intended as a way of basically outlining what achievements we want to and have in our pockets by then. But how we achieve these achievements means also restructuring our organization.
Now, we all know, like all international organizations, we have zero nominal growth. As Jean Pascal pointed out, as an international civil servant. There’s not enough money, of course, and we need to readjust our priorities.
Now, what’s very topical, of course, we’ve already discussed here, is inspectors — what we do with that expertise. How do we transfer and maintain knowledge? This is vitally important. When there’s less businesses day to day, but nonetheless, it’s a very rarefied profession, which we need to preserve in some way or another.
The other thing we need to do more efficiently is to enhance our use of electronic transfer of information. To be effective, especially in relation to alerts on transfers of scheduled chemicals, we need to get information real time, and we are trying to shift our states’ parties along these line — to think along these lines of participation in new systems where we’ve got up and running.
One of these is the secure information exchange, the SIX system. I think we have about 7 countries so far subscribing to that.
This is just simply an electronic means for conveying confidential information, which obviously helps assist our verification efforts in real time.
The other thing we need to do is expand our community of stakeholders in order for us to have a bit of visibility and understanding on new advances in science and technology.
Now, we do have a subsidiary body of the OPCW called the Scientific Advisory Board, which meets regularly and has various temporary working groups. I can see several members here, Joe Howse , in particular over there. Hi Joe .
But it’s more than your formal network. We need bodies like this and governments to consult more regularly with their scientific establishments. I’ve been an arms control — you know, I came in to arms control when Ken and his people shut down the verification protocol. I had two weeks of that. It was a very exciting excursion into multilateral diplomacy, arms control diplomacy, very short-lived nonetheless. But I went on to do other things.
But you know, I have a Ph.D. in Russian literature, so you can imagine — I mean, I wouldn’t have been a very useful negotiator. But the beauty about a negotiation going on at the conference — and there hasn’t been one for a long time — is you very quickly acquire experts, because one thing that, you know, diplomats and scientists and industry representatives do and have been doing since the CWC was negotiated was talking to each other and having to understand each other. And that’s very, very important.
I mean, that even goes to our enforcement officials. People at the border who are looking off to the secure transfer of dual-use materials need to understand these things, and scientists have to be able to explain things so that they’re understood.
So, this is vitally important to expand our community of stakeholders. One startling statistic that my science adviser colleague at the OPCW gave me was there are 15,000 potential chemical substances added to the chemical abstracts database daily. That’s extraordinary. We can’t control this.
And Ken mentioned, for instance, dual use. I used to work on Australia group issues when I was working at National System in Australia. And, you know, we are now at the point where there’s just too much gray area. There’s too much dual use. We can’t control substances. We need a proactive approach from a broader community of stakeholders to help us.
So, to this end, you know, we’ve made a real effort to expand our education and outreach endeavors. We had a major conference last — early in September this year in The Hague at our headquarters, which was informed to a large extent by a temporary working group set up on this very subject.
Now, one of the recommendation states’ parties had before them is to make education outreach core business for the organization, not only that, but to set up a separate advisory body to extend our reach. We’re doing this anyway, because it’s more than simply talking to scientists; it’s to shape their minds before they become professional, so to speak.
So, we’re all about fostering and nurturing a culture of responsible scientists right down to the high-school level. And this is going to be very important in order to basically inculcate sort of ethical code, which is another issue we’re working on. And one state party, Germany, put forward a proposal for a code of conduct, which, of course, is something that we can’t impose from above. Just like education outreach efforts, we need a bottoms-up approach to foster these traditions of responsible science.
If I didn’t mentioned the industry, I should have. Engagement with industry is vitally important. We had a lot of engagement with industry when the CWC was being negotiated. That’s why we have a great verification protocol — regime, because it is designed to protect commercially sensitive secrets.
We need to make this relationship and engagement not one of them helping us with compliance but for them to be a little bit more proactive in terms of reaching communities that we need to solicit their help on.
Now, other things we have on the agenda, well, we mentioned non-state actors here. Non-state actors are tricky. We all know that the nonproliferation norms that we have in place — international treaties — weren’t designed to deal with non-state actors. Non-state actors are not subject to the same disincentives as states are. Quite the contrary.
We don’t have any mandate in relation to non-state actors, but we do have a mandate to prevent the proliferation of chemical materials and technologies that could contribute to weapons programs, and we are certainly very focused on the threat from terrorists. We have assistance and protection measures in place. These are a little bit, obviously, late in terms of dealing with attacks.
But we do cooperate with the CCTF initiative with the U.N. We do cooperate with the Security Council Committee — Resolution Committee 1540. And I think what we need to do is talk to our state’s parties about stronger, tighter supply-side measures as a matter of course.
I think we should look at Syria also, the speed with which we are able to remove chemical weapons from Syria. The obvious imperative behind the scenes there was to prevent them from falling in the hands of armed groups that might not be under anybody’s control.
Finally, universality, we’ve spoken a little bit about that. I might just take just a moment now to finish up on this point with a bit more detail.
Myanmar, directly after depositing its instrument of ratification for the BWC, the deputy foreign minister of Myanmar came to our conference-of-states parties, and he made clear that the parliament in Myanmar would consider ratification in January — in its January sessions. So, we’re looking at Burma, Myanmar ratifying in short order.
Certainly, we haven’t had an extraordinary level of cooperation with Myanmar over the past year in terms of training activities, and they’ve been very assiduous in making sure that crossing the T’s and dotting the Is in preparation for implementing the CWC.
Angola — Angola, we’ve had very limited engagement with, but they are joining the Security Council next year, and I think a lot of states’ parties have delivered the message that it’s not a good look for a member of the Security Council not to be a state party to cornerstone arms control treaties, among which are the CWC and BWC.
So, we’ve had some indications that the Council of Ministers there has considered ratifying the CWC along side and the Arms Trade Treaty and the BWC and that’s one or two others, so we’re hoping that will happen very shortly.
South Sudan, we did have some engagement with them before the present civil conflict in that country. There’s no reason South Sudan wouldn’t join the CWC. Needless to say, it’s a country that has a lot on its plate.
We need to be imaginative in terms of how we package the CWC with other must-ratify or must-succeed to all exceed-to treaties, including the NPT and things like this.
So, South Sudan is looking pretty good as well, which leaves, obviously, Israel, Egypt and North Korea. Well, you mentioned Maz before Jean Pascal. I’m not sure what Maz or North Korea will come first, but certainly, I think they’d be sort of last on the list, because we had no engagement with North Korean, unfortunately.
Egypt and Israel, we’ve had a bit second-track activity, but things that tied up — plugged up a little bit with the WMD conference process, but we can talk about that separately.
But the bottom line is that, in the wake of the Syria mission, in the wake of confirmed use of chemical weapons recently and given the international reaction, nobody should be, in any doubt, in relation to the fact that this is, whatever its legal status for any particular country, a global norm, on the international customary law. It is in place CW and taboo , and it’s not a strategic option for any country.
So, this is the — this is the message that we’re reinforcing. Also, we have to look at universalization not just in — in quantitative terms but in qualitative of terms.
I think Paul mentioned before the need to improve national implementation, because, of course, we’re only as strong as our weakest link. There are many countries, probably about 50, if not more, that haven’t even been passed implementing legislation. Now, we’re certainly doing a lot to make sure we get best practice across the board.
So, we have a lot on our agenda at the moment. We are also creating new tools to help countries in relation to national implementation, e-learning tools. I think we have six modules in the Web site now, including a legal assistance drafting tool. So, we’re encouraging states parties to make use of those.
So there it is, we have a big agenda. We have a tight situation and we’re going to go through institutional change. We going to think about this very carefully in consultation with states’ parties to make sure the ball has not dropped anywhere along the way and that we anticipate things coming along by way of challenges. We need to move on all fronts of course.
What I’d leave you with is, if we’ve had the Syria mission and the Nobel Peace Prize as two legs of a three-legged stool, which is really public support has being sitting on and public profile.
The third one is of course Ypres. Now, on the 22nd of April we will have the 100th anniversary of the first large scale chemical weapons attack in that city. We’re going to host a large meeting there and issue a lofty declaration, and basically reaffirming international commitment to the cause of chemical disarmament and hopefully maintain strong public support for that mission as we continue to broaden our community of stakeholders. Thank you.
ZANDERS: Thank for you this, Peter.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you everyone. My name is Craig Williams. And I wear a number of hats in the NGO community in association with chemical weapons disposal. But, first, I’d like to say that most of the discussions today have been on — from folks who are dealing with the national and international implications of this. And I’d like to thank Daryl and everyone for inviting me who is someone who deals with that on the margins but who actually lives in the shadow of a chemical weapon stockpile.
In my neighborhood we are fortunate enough, blessed, to have 523 tons of mustard agent, VX agent, GB agent, in various delivery systems most of it explosively configured. So, it’s ready to be delivered to a town near you, if you’re interested. Actually, it’s kind of ironic, but that was one of the options that were presented to us early on.
The area that I’m supposed to be talking about, according to my invitation, was the challenges associated with chemical weapons demilitarization. I’ve been doing this work for 30 years. I didn’t bring a PowerPoint because it takes two days to go through it. But I can tell you that there have been a number of challenges, not the least of which has been the method by which we get rid of these weapons.
Most of the presenters have had an accent today. And if I don’t have a Kentucky accent, please forgive me. I can put it on for you all, if you want me to. But I’m from New York, so it’s a little bit of a challenge.
The biggest challenge that we face on a community level and not just in Kentucky, but across the United States throughout the South Pacific where Kalama Island or Johnston Island, as it’s known to some folks, and in Russia, was the secrecy associated with the actual contents of the stockpiles and the methodology that was brought forward to dispose of these. The — and this is not to historically point fingers at anyone, the Army or the Pentagon or anyone for that, it’s just actually a historical expose of some of the challenges that we faced.
All of those hard feelings and animosity have now disappeared and I’ll will explain how we got to that point shortly. But being a veteran myself, I appreciate the fact that when you’re in the military and you’re on — in a battle field situation, you don’t express the opportunity for opinions to be expressed. You — if the lieutenant says “Go that way,” you don’t say “Well, I’d rather go that way,” or I’d rather not go at all, which is something I should have said.
But the point is that’s not the way you should deal with things on a community-based level because in Richmond, Kentucky which is about six miles north of where I live — where this stockpile exists — is not a battle field situation. It’s a community situation. And — but rather than come to the community and say we, the collective we — not just the army, not just the military — “We as a community, we as a country, we as the military, have a situation.”
We have 523 tons of chemical warfare agent stockpiled in over 100,000 weapons. And we’d like to work together and figure out what’s the best way to get rid of this both in compliance with international obligations, as well as ensuring the protection of the public health and protection of the environment within which they live. That is not what happened.
The Army showed up in 1984. The vast majority of the community was not even aware that chemical weapons were stored there. And they said, you have all these chemical weapons. We’re going to get rid of them and we’re going to burn them in an incinerator. Does anyone have any questions?
And so, 30 years later, I’ve still got hand up, although it’s been gradually coming down. So they had approach of decide, announce and defend. They decided what they were going to do. They announced what they were going to do and they spent 15 years defending it.
The technology selection was not even on the table. The only options that we were given during the national environmental — the NEPA Process, National Environmental Policy Act process, was to either burn all the weapons in all of the sites in the United States where they were stored. Or move the weapons to two regional locations, so that they would burn them there. Or move them all to one location and we would burn them there.
And if you noticed the continuity of the technology throughout that, the only options we were given were location. We weren’t asked if there — we thought there was a better way to do this. Now, you have to imagine that this is a very small federal facility. It’s 15,000 acres and right in the middle of it, basically, is where these stockpiles are placed. 1.3 miles from that storage area and where they were going to build this giant incinerator is a middle school of 800 of our children, 1.3 miles.
In Utah, I don’t know if any of you have been to Utah, but the facility there is in the middle of the desert. And there’s very little human population. There’s a lot of jack rabbits and sheep and things like that. But the potential risk to humans is significantly mitigated because of its geographical location.
So, given that option, our community said, move it to Utah. Because understand, it wasn’t that we want it to dump it on our Utah neighbors. It’s that those were the only options that were given to us, burning in your backyard next to your middle school, next to — two miles from a college of 14,000 students. Or move it to a remote area.
Now, it’s interesting in reflection, I remember when we had — I hosted the first international conference on chemical weapons disposal from NGO community, and there was a gentleman there from the Pacific. And when they moved the German stockpile from Germany to Kalama Island or Johnston Atoll, he asked the question of why did they do that? And they said, well, because we felt it was better in a remote location. And he said, well, that’s odd because I look at Germany as a remote location.
So, I guess it all depends on where you sit. So our options were very limited. We advocated for movement. That option was declined by the Pentagon. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons was because of a terrorist threat along the transportation route. And this is in 1998, long before terrorism was on everybody’s mind and on the television every evening.
And so, the decision was made that they were going to burn it every place it was. At that point, we formed a coalition of grassroots groups from all of the communities in the U.S., many of the communities in Russia. Paul and I traveled together in Russia under less-than-uncomfortable conditions a couple of times. And we decided that we would develop a set of citizen’s accords or thoughts and positions that we took as a coalition. We had about a 130 organizations in Russia, the U.S. and the South Pacific that were part of this coalition.
And one of the principles was that you have to prioritize, not just consider, but prioritize, public health protection and environmental protection in the course of trying to destroy these weapons. No one would be surprised that every one of these communities, whether they were for the technology of choice or against it, we’re obviously in favor of getting rid of this material. Because the mere fact that it’s there poses a significant risk to the community within which it’s stored.
So, there was no question of our advocacy for disposal. However, we were — like I said, I had different ideas of how to go about it. It was a significant resistance to the concept of looking at alternative methods. There were a number of legislative directives from the Congress that task the Defense Department to consider alternatives but nothing that forced them to actually come up with any.
Cost and schedule has always been an issue associated with the U.S. program. I’m not sure how many of you know that the original cost projection and schedule projection for the U.S. Program in 1985 when they had the first meeting about this outside of Washington D.C. which was held in Richmond, Kentucky was $1.8 billion for the entire U.S. program, and it would be finished by 1994. So, to say that we’re a little over budget and a little past schedule, I think is understating it.
The current expenditure, so far, somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 billion and the current projection for completion is 2023. Although I’ll get — in a moment, I’ll explain why I think we’re going to beat that schedule a little bit.
But the cost and schedule was a challenge. In addition, because of the funding problems and because of the cost overruns at several of the ongoing sites, monies were being taken away from other sites in order to supplement the shortcomings at some of the facilities that were under construction or even in operations. That hindered the progress of the overall program because we didn’t have enough money to go around.
Our position that incineration was not a protective measure and state of the art, as it was presented. And remember, up until 1969, state of the art was to put the weapons in ships and tow them out in the ocean and sink them, and that was the state-of-the-art process at the time. So state of the art really doesn’t mean a lot to us, other than, you know, it’s the best we can get away with. Funding was reduced. In fact funding was taken away from some of the sites and put towards other sites and that was a challenge as well.
Eventually, the Chemical Weapons Working Group tasked an international team of researchers and scientists with the expertise in disposal of these sorts of chemicals, whether they be chemical weapons from the military or chemicals from the industrial side — and brought forward a report in 1990 that we circulated around Capitol Hill and that is what was the catalyst for us getting traction in our arguments around incineration.
Subsequent to that, there was a law passed and it created what’s called the Citizens Advisory Commissions. And what that law stated was that each site that has these materials will establish a Citizens Advisory Commission under the Governor’s authority. It will be made up of seven individuals from the immediate impact zone which was considered to be a 50 mile radius from the stockpile and two state representatives with some connection to the program, such as emergency response people regulatory authorities and so on.
That law passed in 1992 and that was the beginning, really, of where we are today which is a very robust model for how to actually accomplish things between communities, governments and contractors — defense contractors, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Congress also directed that the Army continue to look at alternatives, but no alternatives surfaced in their very limited research. Every time they would go and research it, they would come back and say nothing else works.
In 1996, there was a law passed that actually directed them to find alternatives, to identify and demonstrate — and that was the critical word. Not just look and come back and say no. Identify and demonstrate not less than two alternatives to incineration for chemical weapons disposal and cut the funding for incineration projects in both Kentucky and Colorado.
This — what followed that was called an ACWA Dialog, and ACWA in this case stands for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, or in that case assessments. And we sat around with all of the interested parties and it was the first time that all of these parties have sat down together. The Pentagon, the EPA, community groups, environmentalist, representatives of tribes in affected areas, and it was a very diverse and broad spectrum of people that got together for the first time and talk.
In 1997, in conversations with National Security Council people and others, the Chemical Weapons Working Group was asked if we would support the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Now you have to appreciate you’re living in a community who is trying to stop the Pentagon from doing something they’ve already decided to do. And you realize that if you support the convention, you’re going to add momentum to them actually executing what they’ve already decided to do, which is contrary to your primary focus.
So, we were in a bit of a conundrum at that point. But with the help of many advisers including Mr. Tucker, who I spoke to many times about this and folks at the National Security Council, people in President Clinton’s Cabinet and at State Department and so on. We rallied our coalition and came out in support of the treaty and were given credit, frankly, for delivering several votes in the Senate on ratification. And that’s something that I’m very proud of because I kind of led the charge to go ahead and endorse this treaty even though it was counterproductive to some of our other agenda items. And we did that and I’ve never looked back and regretted that action. I think it was the right thing to do.
And now, of course, I’ve been to The Hague several times and I’m involved with folks on the international level in a way I never anticipated. And I realize now that, not only was that the right thing for that time, but it certainly is a great effort on behalf of the international community.
So, we supported the CWC. And in 2002 after the dialog went on for several years, it was determined that alternatives would be used in Colorado and alternatives would be used in Kentucky. Prior to that, they used an alternative technology in both Maryland and in Indiana. So, four out of the eight sites in the United States wound up going with a neutralization-based chemical reaction, rather than an incineration-based combustion option.
And the fundamental difference here, just real quick, an incinerator, you know, works on, you know, you feed material in and you hope it works because there’s no way to — once it’s in there, you can’t stop it and check it and see how you’re doing. It just continues to go. And between 1988 and 1996 we identified at least 18 instances documented where live agent had actually come out of the stack of these incinerators and that just reinforced the fact that our objections to this particular technology were well founded.
Now, there’s a discussion about how much it was, whether it would have impacted anybody offsite and all these kinds of discussions. But to us, that’s immaterial, it demonstrated that the technology can’t control the material. And the approach we’re taking now in Kentucky, for example, along each phase of the process you’re able to extract samples and make sure that you’ve actually achieved your disposal targets before it goes on to the next step. So it’s a much more controlled process.
The current challenges that we face include some things like all — it turns out that all of our mustard rounds, 15,000 of them, the vast majority of them have solidified over the years in storage and the main facility that was designed and is currently 90 percent complete with construction, is not designed to be able to drain out solidified materials. It’s designed to be able to drain the agent out of whatever weapon it happens to be in.
So, it was brought to our attention that it’s going to be very difficult and they ran into these problems at incineration sites as well and they were actually sending in workers in full ensemble with hand tools to try to take apart some of these weapons because they couldn’t get the bursters out because the agent had solidified around them. And so, you have to imagine that we have 15,000 of these things. About 60 to 70 percent of them were going to be in that shape which led us to the understanding that we would have to send our workers in, you know, 600, 700, 800 times intentionally putting them at risk of extracting these — and that was just not in line with our criteria of public safety, worker safety, environmental safety.
So, they brought to our attention explosive destruction technology. I’m not sure if many of you are familiar with it, but basically it’s huge steel containers that are heated, you drop around in, it blows up, the deflagration and the heat destroy the agent. So, that was a challenge because that’s something that we would not have selected in our alternative reviews earlier on. But because of the situation and the newly revealed information, we were willing to work with the Army and with the regulators and with the contractor, and we’ve agreed to do that and now we’re going to proceed with that.
There’s always funding challenges, design changes, waste code modifications that we’re working through right now, and these are some of the challenges that we deal with currently. We’re well past the technology debate, and now we’re dealing down in the weeds more with some execution issues. But there remains many, many challenges which is — which validates the usefulness of the Citizen’s Advisory Commissions and the advisory boards.
So finally, let me just say that we have come a long way since the early days where we were actually marching in the streets and going to testify on Capitol Hill, which I’ve done many times. And we have now developed a relationship that is a model for community and government to work together on how to solve these kinds of problems, and we’re dealing now with the most toxic materials on the planet.
And if — I feel if we can work together on these sorts of issues that this is a model that can be used almost everywhere. The transparency and the engagement that the military now shares with the community is unprecedented. There are some design issues that just came up. As soon as they discover them, they called us together. We’ve worked through them. We have a recommendation that’s going to go up to the contractor and to the Pentagon next week on these issues. And we’ve gone from decide, announce, defend to discuss, decide, and move forward. And that’s where we’ve come.
We still face challenges. I’m going to say that the current Pentagon schedule prediction for completion of operations in Kentucky, which you’ve heard is the last site, is 2023. Things are going swimmingly at the moment. We’ve had a lot of successes on the construction front. We’re eliminating the mustard campaign from the main facility, which in itself is going to save a year. That campaign is going to start in March of 2017, and it should be over in December of 2017.
So, instead of having to decontaminate the entire facility and run a mustard campaign through that facility, we’re not going to be doing that. We’ll have the mustard done before the main facility even starts. So, that knocks us back to 2022. And if things keep going right, we’ll be even to the left of that. And interestingly enough at the Conference of State Parties, it was adopted that the Russian schedule is now 2020.
So, we’re starting to see an intersection of the two main possessors here in the same time period, which is not only good for the planet and good for the CWC, but it’s also good for both countries’ reputation of fulfilling their obligations under the CWC, which says that you have to do this in the safest and as soon as possible.
So with that, I thank you very much for your time and attention. Thanks.
ZANDERS: But thank you for that. We have about 10 more minutes or so for Q&A.
But, Craig, one thing that intrigued me in your presentation was the surprise that the people dismantling the munitions that came across certain types of chemical combinations, solidification of agent and so on in Belgium when preparing destruction — well, planning the destruction of World War I chemical munitions. I remember so many — so much research was undertaken to understand what possible combinations of chemicals they might actually encounter. Was that not done here?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, the — as far as they could, they had tracking mechanisms for different lots of materials, but the manufacturing process, particularly for the mustard rounds which are the most antiquated of the rounds and probably a lot of what you’re finding there, and you’re using explosive destruction technology I believe.
ZANDERS: Only for arsenics.
WILLIAMS: OK. Anyway, the point is they — they didn’t begin to run into this level of solidification problem with mustard agents until they got into certain lots, manufacturing lots of them both in Utah and in Alabama.
Once they ran into that, they — they did — started doing the research to determine what further problems associated with that can they anticipate based on the manufactured lots that were still there. They abandoned incineration at those sites in order to use explosive destruction technology for the same reason that we’re abandoning neutralization for that reason. And we, unfortunately, identified that a significant portion of our mustard rounds were in the manufacturing lots associated with the problematic weapons.
At that point, we jointly, the government and the community, agreed that we should do additional research via x-rays of these weapons to try and determine what percentage of them will have that condition. Once that was undertaken, it was determined that 60 to 70 percent of them were gonna be that — that problem, and what were the options? Well clearly, we couldn’t send workers in repeatedly knowing that they’d be at risk that much.
So, the National Research Council came and presented some options to us, several different explosive detonation technologies as well as the Army’s neutralization process that was basically used on the Cape Ray. And so, we down-selected to one that we felt safe with.
But it was — it was one of these things that’s a lesson learned when you start getting into different manufacturing lots. Interestingly enough, I found out three years ago when my father passed away that my grandfather worked at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland and was a chemical engineer who developed some of these very weapons that I’m now trying to get rid of.
So — and that was just, you know, one of those things that you can’t believe happens. But there he was. He was sergeant in the Army and a chemist. So, two generations later we’re trying to get rid of them.
ZANDERS: Oh, well, there you go, all the kinds of stories. OK, we’re going to take a couple of questions from the room. Please identify yourself. Keep the questions short. We have about 10 minutes or so for questioning.
QUESTION: Thank you. Chen Kane from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Peter, a question for you, you mentioned that the convention required destruction in country and this — and the flexibility that, because of the Security Council resolution, we managed to do in Syria some outside and some in country.
Libya, about two months ago, asked that the schedule, two materiel will be removed from country and be destroyed outside. So if you can elaborate a little bit what the status and how much flexibility we can demonstrate with destruction outside the country without Security Council resolution?
And Craig, congratulation about the success of creating a model and actually changing government decision. My question is for you is, you mentioned that you worked with colleagues from Russia. What’s the success they had in influence their government to change some of the decisions that was made? And what will be your recommendation for communities in countries which are — how do I describe it — less than democratic than the U.S. where community has less means to influence in democratic ways? Because the countries that still need to destroy and some of the countries that did not sign, some — most of them are less than democratic. So what will be your lesson learned from those communities?
ZANDERS: OK, Peter?
WILLIAMS: Go ahead, Peter.
SAWZCAK: Let me first say this is a good example of transfer of expertise and knowledge management that the OPCW can learn from. A grandfather who’s a chemical engineer and the same expertise has passed through the generations, through the genes…
… and used again for a similar purpose but in reverse. We’ll have to think about that.
WILLIAMS: I have.
SAWZCAK: It’s not the Security Council. There’s executive council on 27th of September made a decision in relation to a destruction program for Syria, which was endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2118. Now, that was based on the frame of agreement between the U.S. and Russia in relation to elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.
Syria requested for the weapons to be removed because they said they couldn’t do it themselves, look and then pay for it. And that’s — that’s the base on which these parties were able to keep to the spirit of the convention by stretching the law of the convention, so to speak.
It’s true there has been a discussion in relation to Libya. Libya faces all sorts of security challenges, all sorts of financial challenges to get rid of the last Category II chemicals. These are ongoing discussions between states parties, and really it comes down to, you know, an exercise of political rule and the financing being made available.
In fact, the Category I weapons that were destroyed by early this year were done on the base of very generous funding and kit being developed by Germany, the U.S. and Canada. And in fact, our directed general in the company of U.S., German and Canadian colleagues have visit the Rowagha site — Al Rowagha site in Libya to see that himself. I don’t know if Dominique has anything to add to that, but that’s my understanding in the situation at this point.
(UNKNOWN): Could I add a thought to that to be clear on this? I’ve worked my eyeballs on this .
The Executive Council did not have the authority to overrule the treaty. The treaty says you may never transfer. No one ever anticipated this circumstance. Yeah, the time machines , would have come back (inaudible). The U.S. Security Council resolution specifically authorized the director general of the OPCW so long if he determined it was consistent with the object and purpose of the convention to allow the transfer to take place. So, it was a very special set of circumstances the treaty don’t prevail in Libya .
Also remember Peter was alluding to the influence of free country system we moved a very sophisticated piece of equipment down to the desert, destroyed all the others. There’s an in-country solution to the 847 tons of diverse chemicals that doesn’t involve shipping things between 15 militias and Libyans …
… and getting involved (inaudible) with your interpretation of chemical weapons convention.
So sometimes, the simple solution is the right one, and I think at the end of the day we’ll find a way to destroy these (inaudible).
ZANDERS: Thank you for this. Perhaps one element to add to your comment, the Executive Council had already made an exemption for some munitions in Austria to be transferred to Germany for destruction a couple of years earlier.
But Craig, there was also part of the question to you.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have a question about that question. Are all of Libya’s materials in one location, unlike Syria’s that was spread out all over?
(UNKNOWN): They’re all in one place.
WILLIAMS: That makes it a lot easier. Thanks.
To answer your question about the Russian situation, my first engagement with our Russian colleagues happened shortly after the Soviet Union disintegrated and there was a lot of openness at the time and there were a lot of NGOs that were in existence.
And like I said, we hosted the first international citizen’s conference there in Saratov and there were in encampments in Chapaevsk, for example, where they wanted to burn these things and people just had this protest and encampment there, and they wouldn’t let them do it and they didn’t do it.
To make a long story short, the United States was engaged in a very high effort to try and get Russia to accept its technology and use it at all of their sites. That effort was thwarted through the NGO community and their defense department decided to opt to a neutralization-based approach rather than a combustion-based approach that was in great deal result of the NGO communities putting pressure in post-Chapaevsk, Russia.
Unfortunately, things have gone the other way now where there is not that openness and there’s not — in fact a lot of NGOs are just outright banned. And so — and if folks know I’m sure that the — the assistance that was given by outside countries in the construction of — and the transportation efforts to get rid of the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons came to a — an abrupt end when it was time to start operating these facilities. They weren’t interested in having foreign people oversee their operations once the facilities were built. And I’m not saying necessarily it wasn’t because they were not going to adhere to strict environmental and public health standards, but you can draw your own conclusions about that.
As far as other countries go, it’s — the less open, the more challenging. And there’s very few options in some of these countries where the communities are being put at risk, and they have very little, if any, say in what the government is doing.
The only suggestion that I could make would be to play the hand you’re dealt. In the — in the instance of countries where there is the slightest bit of opportunity to engage with the political sphere on concerns of environment and public health, you need to take advantage of whatever opening there is and try to expand that opening gradually. You’re not gonna get there the way we did it which was continued opposition, protest, scientific research, congressional lobbying and finally legislation to execute our agenda because they don’t have the mechanisms built in to do that.
I’ve had to work with all sorts of people in the political sphere on every side of any aisle you can imagine over 30 years. And I’ve always adhered to the position that I am gonna work with whoever’s there because I can’t marginalize somebody because I don’t agree with them on other issues. I gotta keep myself focused.
And in those types of countries, I think you have to do the same thing. You gotta try to find somebody, some place that can move your agenda forward and gradually try to accomplish it. It’s just a very difficult challenge.
ZANDERS: Thank you. Well, I’m going to take, given the time schedule and we must stick to the agenda for the closing keynote, but I had one more question in the middle.
ZANDERS: And if you can keep it short and ask both the speakers for a short reply.
QUESTION: Dennis Nelson, sir .
ZANDERS: Thank you.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask…
WILLIAMS: It’s not on, I don’t think. There it is.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask what’s the position of that Chemical Weapons Convention on things that are ancillary, like uranium hexafluoride, which is all over Kentucky and Ohio, and also things like rocket fuel and rocket oxidizer that were in the titan missiles, and also natural products like ricin and psychotropic agents like LSD? What’s the convention on those?
SAWZCAK: All right, well very brief because I’m not very really sure about some of this chemicals and substances. But basically we have our schedules, schedules 1, 2, and 3 that are subject to transfer controls. Schedule 1 chemicals aren’t allowed for any transfers to non-states parties. Schedule 2 chemicals have — have to be subject to an end-user certificate — sorry — not traded with non-states parties. And schedule 3 chemicals can be traded with non-states parties if it’s got an end-user certificate for it.
Ricin is — well I mean, in terms of other controls that we have, I mean, we have riot control agents aren’t — are prohibited only if they’re used for warfare, so if they’re used for domestic law enforcement purposes, they’re not forbidden for use. But of course, I mean, the general purpose criteria in relation to any toxic chemicals that’s used as a weapon is a weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention is defined by its use as a weapon.
But in terms the actual controls, we’re limited to the schedules. And we do declare — states parties do declare their position of riot control agents and just so that we know, but they’re prevented from using those in warfare.
ZANDERS: Well thank you very much for that.
In light of the next part of the program, may I ask you take your coffee, but be back at 3 o’clock sharp in about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I would like a hand for the two speakers in there.
KIMBALL: All right, welcome back again, everyone, to the closing lap of the 2014 Jonathan Tucker Conference on Chemical and Biological Weapons Arms Control. We’ve just had a very wide-ranging session on the challenges past, present, and future of chemical weapons demilitarization, and we’ve covered the last 100 years of efforts to eliminate chemical weapons in the first session and also a focus on the Syria chemical weapons removal episode in the second session. And we’re gonna return to that theme now with our special speaker Laura Holgate, who joined the National Security Council staff in 2009 as senior director for weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and threat reduction.
Before that for nearly a decade, she was the vice president for Russia/New Independent States Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, one of the leaders who helped shape NTI’s work over the years and put it on a very good footing as one of the leading non-governmental organizations in our — in our field.
Before that, she was a director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fissel Materials Disposition and — and special coordinator for Cooperative Threat Reduction at the Department Of Defense before that. So Laura comes into this conversation with many, many years of experience on — on these issues.
And you’ve accomplished a heck of a lot over those years, but last year must have been one of the busiest in your career. Because in addition to coordinating policy in interagency efforts on the Syria CW mission, she was simultaneously leading U.S. efforts in connection with the third nuclear security summit in The Hague.
So, Laura, thanks for being here. Thanks for all you’ve done for — on these issues through the years and making time with us today to share your perspectives on the Syria CW mission. What has happened, what we’ve learned, what more is to be done, we’ve discussed a good deal over the — the continuing concerns about the situation there. And after your talk, I hope you’ve got a little bit of time to take some questions from our audience.
So everybody, please join me in welcoming Laura Holgate.
HOLGATE: Thank you so much, Daryl. And thanks to all of you for sticking around for the last speech of the day. I really want to appreciate all that — that Daryl and Paul do in support of our national WMD missions and, you know, most of you, as well. And I see many government colleagues in the audience, so I’m counting on you to help keep me honest if I mischaracterize meetings you’ve been in or facts you know to be different, but it’s — it’s wonderful to be here.
And I will say it’s doubly — I’m doubly honored to be here as part of this wonderful tribute to Jonathan Tucker. Jonathan and I were grad students together at MIT way back when. And this — this kind of an intellectually-driven, policy-driven conversation I think is just a really fitting way to honor his many contributions in removing the scourge of chemical and biological weapons, so we really kudos to — to those of who you who’ve conceived and — and put this on.
It also makes me remember how long it is I have been working on chemical weapons. Many people think of me as primarily a nuclear person, but my Masters dissertation at MIT was on chemical weapons — the U.S Chemical Destruction Program, which is where I first came to know Paul. So in some ways, the Syria chemical weapons issue, not that any of us would have welcomed it into our lives, but it was a little bit of a home coming for me and returning to deep work on that topic.
Not so long ago, any of us would have been called crazy had we predicted that the U.S. and Russia would have concluded a framework for the removal and elimination of the Syria Chemical Weapons Program, that it would have been incorporated weeks later into binding decisions of the executive council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. Security Council, that Syria would have acceded to the CWC, that the regime’s 13,000 tons of declared chemical agent and related materials would have been removed from Syria or destroyed on site.
I mean, it really is — we — we owe ourselves a moment to pause and think about what a dramatic and unexpected set of events that was. These accomplishments represent major victories for the people of Syria, for Syria’s neighbors, and for the international legal and normative regime against chemical weapons and their use.
Two years ago, we were engaged in what I call concentric circles of fretting. We’ve fretted at least weekly around my interagency policy committee table and more often than that, in deputies committees and principles committees in the sit room. We were fretting with our P3 partners, and eventually we added Canada and Germany to a slightly larger fretting circle. We fretted in separate conversations with Russia, with Israel, with Jordan, and with Turkey.
And because we didn’t adequately — we did not feel that our traditional partners and potential victims in Europe were adequately live to the threat and to the need for response, we created a series of meetings first held in Prague to fret with yet an even wider circle of partners.
By comparison to what we were fretting about then, our problems today are so much more manageable. We were fretting about international chemical weapons attacks on Turkey or Jordan, or attacks on rebels near borders that accidentally spilled out of Syrian territory.
We were fretting about how to get samples out of Syria and into the hands of credible testing labs so that the U.S. would not be the only voice claiming instances of use. We were fretting about theft of weapons or chemicals by rebels or accidental attacks by rebels on CW sites and whether it was more dangerous to reveal these sites to the rebels or to keep them hidden.
We were fretting about terrorist access to weapons, materials, and experts and clandestine removal across borders. We fretted about how to secure the weapon stocks if Syria began to dissolve and how to destroy chemicals and precursors onsite to keep them out of the hands of anyone who might use them in the chaos of a disintegrating state. There were not very many good answers to these concerns.
But, as we see now, these are non-events. These are dogs that did not bark, and most of them will never bark again, thanks to the agreements reached last fall and the enormous, enormous international effort to make sure that they were actually carried out.
We should not lose sight of how much more complicated, how — I’m sorry — how much less complicated is the larger Syria problem, however complex and harrowing and — and humanly tragic it is, how much less complicated it is with the significant diminishment of the wide range of chemical threats we faced only 18 months ago.
So what were the key characteristics of this success? I would suggest that they — that the main characteristics of our work here were uncertainty, creativity, and cooperation. In all my years in government, I have never worked on such a whiplash-inducing file.
Beginning with the bizarre early reports in July 2012 that Assad was using chemical weapons, not in scuds or with rockets that we knew we had, but in small-scale, improvise devices against his own people. Consider the truths that turned out not to be true. And I put all of these in quotations. `We have decided to strike Syria to prevent further use of CW’ Nope. `Russia can’t bring Assad to the table.’ Well, they did. `There’s no way we can move these chemicals in a war zone.’ Well, we did that too. `We’re going to destroy these chemicals in Albania.’ Nope.
`NATO will provide maritime security.’ Not so much, although, members of NATO did. `The Syrian materiel will all be removed by December 31st, 2013. ‘ Didn’t meet that. But the uncertainty of these events were creating enormous political and technical challenges. In this uncertain context, we need creativity.
The story of The Field Deployable Hydrolysis System is truly an amazing contribution to the success of the Syrian operation. Thanks to the foresight and risk tolerance of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Undersecretary Frank Kendall, the Pentagon team had — had invented a solution that because — that they became a reality when we suddenly found ourselves in a position last October to begin putting together the elimination process.
And we turned from land — as we turned from land-based installations to maritime platforms for destruction, the team from the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center figured out how to take equipment engineered for two football fields and literally rack and stack it onto four decks of a repurposed cargo ship.
My visit to the MV Cape Ray last fall was among the most impressive and, frankly, upbeat of all of my WMD tourism experiences. And I thank the Pentagon for having what we needed when we needed it.
Creativity also came into play in The Hague. This — The Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW have proven even more flexible and capable than we thought we would need them to be when they were invented.
In addition to the — to the significant technical and political tools that are — were baked in to these tool — these institutions in serving this mission so well, member states were able to use the CWC and the OPCW to invent the concept of an expeditionary joint U.N.-OPCW mission, which worked in some pretty harrowing circumstances and at great personal risk.
The — we were able to launch Fact-Finding Mission, similarly at some personal risk to the people involved. We were able to — to figure out how to pull funds from dozens of countries to cover cost associated with destroying serious chemical weapons. And the interlocking decisions of the OPCW Executive Council and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1218 provide unprecedented access to the highest levels of international decision-making for chemical weapons issues.
The role of the OPCW highlights another characteristic of the Syria’s CW removal and destruction project, and that’s the theme of cooperation. That litany of fretting I mentioned earlier ended up bearing fruit, even though none of those truly dire concerns came to pass. The quiet consultations with Russia, led by the National Security Council and the Russian Security Council, proved invaluable in creating a common understanding of the shape of the — of the Syrian chemical weapons threat and in the personal familiarity that the individuals had that became the basis of the September 2013 elimination framework.
The engagements with Syria’s neighbors and with European partners about threat assessment and consequences and consequence management provided the basis of support across regions for our positions in proposals in the OPCW Executive Council and the U.N. Security Council. And the U.N. OPCW Joint Mission provided a critical platform for coordination and cooperation among so many players in the removal and destruction process.
Here is where the force of international norms and structures really matters, as well as the availability of threat reduction tools and techniques. The most compelling forces we were able to apply to Syria to get them to move their materials were Russia’s impatience, the course of criticism in the E.C. and the U.N. Security Council, and the quiet cajoling and problem solving of the U.N. OPCW Joint Mission. These cooperative compliance tools did not exist 18 months ago. And they are the reason we are as far as we are.
Now, much has been said about the enormous and extremely skillful and productive diplomatic effort that underpinned this entire project. But without the cooperation of the Danes, the Norwegians, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Fins, the Germans, the U.K. and yes, even China and Russia, we would not be where we are on the removal effort.
Numerous other countries have contributed funds and expertise. Others have stepped up their own readiness to detect and respond to a CW attack or release. The world and the Syrian people are safer as a result. There is no clearer example of this administration’s leadership in working with other countries and with multilateral institutions to achieve common goals.
As we move from the success of the removal destruction prep phase of the Syria CW challenge to what I refer to as the accountability phase, these same three elements uncertainty, creativity, and cooperation will also define our ability to achieve success. We continue to see uncertainty about discrepancies between our knowledge of the Syrian CW program, the declaration submitted by the — the Syrian government.
Some of these could be explainable by the speed with which Syria was required to submit its declaration compared with the years that some countries take to prepare their CWC submissions. But other less benign explanations are also of concern. Our concerns include accountability — accountancy of materials, undeclared agents and munitions, undeclared sites, and programmatic inconsistencies. We are also profoundly skeptical of the Syrian claims that no records exist to corroborate its declaration.
The OPCW’s declaration assessment team and I want to point out this is yet another bureaucratic innovation that has been incredibly powerful. They’ve been making progress, and Syria has, in fact, provided several updates to its original declarations.
But fundamentally, the technical secretariat of the OPCW is unable to verify that all of the Syrian chemicals, munitions, and facilities have been declared and eliminated. This is a profound statement of uncertainty and that — one that poses continued risks of further use.
There are those who will say that there will never be enough information to achieve complete certainty with respect to Syria’s chemical weapons program. And there is some truth in this. It is very difficult if not impossible to prove a negative. But the Assad’s regime can — regimes continued behavior and contravention of its obligations under the CWC and under 2118, demands that we press for as much certainty as possible.
As we look to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Ypres in 2015, we must all be extremely distressed and haunted by the fact that the only country in the history of the CWC to have used chemical weapons against its people is Syria under the leadership of the Assad regime.
This should give us pause as we remember — as we prepare to remember the World War I battlefield from which decades past have led to the international community to say enough, to say that this form of warfare was too abhorrent for any context in the horrors of war.
One area where we have no uncertainty, however, is that chemicals weapons continue to be used in Syria. The second report of the OPCW’s fact-finding mission presents a compelling set of findings and conclusions from witnesses and victims’ accounts and other evidence. We have no doubt that these findings and conclusions point to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons in attacks against opposition-controlled towns in northern Syria during April and May of this year. The consistent — the consistent presence of helicopters in these accounts unequivocally points to the Syrian government as the perpetrator of these attacks.
The fact-finding mission is now addressing additional allegations of attacks in August and September. The use of chlorine or any other toxic chemical as a weapon in Syria is a clear breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Security Council Resolution 20 — 2118.
Regrettably, the Executive Council has been unable to reach consensus on condemning the Syrian government’s continued use of chemical weapons and holding it accountable under the convention. The extraordinary nature of this situation and the circumstances under which Syria joined the convention demands creativity.
How can member states in the OPCW itself use the tools of the treaty to clarify the uncertainty surrounding Syria’s declaration? How can we present a more compelling case of the realities of ongoing use by the Syrian regime to overcome the silence of too many countries in The Hague?
And let us be under no illusions. Others are showing creativity as well. I worry greatly about what non-state actors maybe taking away from this situation, despite the limited military effectiveness of Syria’s CW use against insurgents, we’ve seen an uptick in interest in CW among terrorist groups, some associated with fighters in Syria.
Do they believe these weapons will be useful? Do they believe the international community will tolerate their use? Does the heightened visibility of chemical weapons over the last year attract attention or ambition that didn’t exist before? Does the improvised nature of the weapons used in — by the regime lower their perceived barriers to acquisition or use by terrorists? Might the terrorists gain access to undeclared elements of Syria’s CW stockpile?
We all have a stake in making sure the answers to these questions are no.
As with the removal of — as with the removal destruction phase, the only path to accountability for Syria’s chemical transgressions is in cooperation. Each nation has a vested interest in the outcome of Syrian behavior.
We each share a collective responsibility, an obligation to uphold the international standards and norms embodied in the convention that unequivocally bans the use of chemical weapons, as well as having any chemical weapons program.
In this regard, we actually share a common vision with partners around the world, whether in Latin America, Africa, Asia, or elsewhere. We collectively believe that our world should be free of the scourge of chemical weapons. We are bound by an international commitment to these principles, a global code of conduct.
Until the Assad regime addresses these open issues and ceases all continued chemical weapons use, we must all remain vigilant. Can we trust the Assad regime? Trust is earned and earned through sustained experience and action. The Assad regime’s action give us no reason to take it at its word alone, which is why we must continue to strongly support the OPCW and its internationally chartered and mandated mission to get to the bottom of the Assad regime’s behavior and residual capability.
We all have a responsibility to support the OPCW in this regard. Unfortunately, six states currently remain outside the convention and are therefore on the sidelines of this critical international responsibility. We will continue to prioritize the universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and we are conducting outreach to these states urging them to join as rapidly as possible and to lend their voice and their authority to this global imperative.
So whether in the removal destruction phase of the Syria CW crisis or in this current accountability phase, we see that in the face of uncertainty, creativity and cooperation are required. By remaining firm and holding the Assad regime accountable, the international community honors the memory of all victims of chemical weapons use and the norms against such use, be it by states or non-state actors.
Thank you for your work on this issue, and I look forward to a rich discussion.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Laura, appreciate that very much. And I think we do have some questions in the audience, and we have microphones that will come to you. And if you could just state your name and your question.
I think Shervin, we have one right here in front.
ZANDERS: Thank you very much for your presentation. I’m Jean Pascal Zanders, The Trench, Belgium.
In your listing of the assistance that was provided in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapon capacity, what struck me when looking at the list was that not a single state from the Middle East has actually contributed to that effort.
What — what are your thoughts in this — on this? And, related to that, does it say anything about the prospects of getting a zone free of non-conventional weapons in the Middle East?
HOLGATE: Well, I’m not gonna touch that last question because…
… not my job, as they say, which means not my knowledge either. I — I was not able in — in a presentation like this to list the numerous countries who contributed in cash to the — to the trust fund. And I’m confident that in that list, you will find some Middle East countries. I don’t remember exactly which ones. Someone is shaking her head vigorously there, so the — I think it would — I think you’d might be able to say it would be a challenge for them to have been involved in the operational phase of the activity.
So actually, that list that I’ve mentioned were the countries that had been, you know, actively engaged, I think that’s — that that group speaks for itself.
But certainly, the Middle East has benefited from the removal of this threat. And we hope to see further action there on universalization, on continuing to be ready to deal with any negative outcome that could happen from, you know, to the degree there are still things there to be helpful in managing that threat.
KIMBALL: All right. I have a question to ask Laura unless there’s another one.
All right. While you all think about it, let me just ask you Laura a couple quick questions. One is to maybe expand a little bit more on the funding sources that help make some of the early efforts possible. To my understanding, the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund was a core element that made some of the early work on the Cape Ray and other things possible, and the Nunn-Lugar authorities made it possible for the administration to move some moneys around.
I mean, if you could explain that. Because I think, you know, part of the — the story that you’re telling is about how worked on years before laid the foundation for what — what happened in just a few short weeks.
And then you talked about the fretting, the circles of fretting. Simon Limage alluded to that in his presentation earlier this morning. I’m just wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about one of the other things I would expect your team is fretting on given your long work with the — the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction Program, which is the — the future of the engineers, some of the scientist in the Syrian program who are still — how shall we say — you know, out of reach at the moment given the political situation?
You know, what thoughts do you have about what the international community can do in that regard, and particularly what Russia might be able to do as one of the countries with some better access to those — to those people.
HOLGATE: Good questions. And I’m — my — because it happened six months ago, which is a lifetime ago in — in my memory space, I’m — you’re — I mean, I have to think a little hard about the — the funding sources. The — certainly, we were starting from a very good point in terms of having both the tradition of the threat reduction concept and the — and the funding streams to support it in multiple agencies.
The Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund was able to do some initial work in — especially because we could move — you know, access that fairly quickly, in purchasing gear and equipment in — for work inside Syria, and doing so in a manageable way from an export control and — and other constraints point of view.
Because recall Syria was under sanctions, is under sanctions. So we needed a few creative OFAC licensing processes and other such things to be able to send, you know, things like ISO containers and forklifts and big trucks to be used inside Syria by Syrians without the expectation that we would get them back.
So that the — but I do not believe that the NDF actually supported the Cape Ray. I mean, the Pentagon had the resources to do that. And they — that was under the CTR funding largely. But also, the initial funding was not CTR funding. The — the funding to build the little, you know, the actual devices, which were only about $5 million a piece. The actual field — the field deployable hydrolysis units were pretty cheap.
It’s putting them on a — on a ship, having the ship, you know, carve circles in the Mediterranean for several months, paying an incredibly crack, brave and talented team to be ready to go on a moment’s instance — on a moment’s notice not knowing when that moment’s notice was going to come. You know, that all adds up pretty quick.
And I think in the end between the equipment that was provided inside Syria and the Cape Ray operation itself, CTR ended up bearing about $160 million worth. But also, we had EUCOM providing some of the naval security resources for the Cape Ray once it got underway along with other NATO allies who helped provide a security cordon around the operating ship.
And — so there were — there were multiple strains of DOD money that were flowing towards this — towards this process. And then there were — you know, other departments contributed not necessarily in financial ways. But Jerry Epstein is here from DHS when we were having conversations about how do you bring that portion of the materiel that was going — that is being eliminated in Texas.
We had a lot of interesting questions with the Department of Transportation, with DHS, in terms of the coastal security issues, in terms of the chemical, you know, just basic chemical security issues. And so, as I mentioned earlier, we also had some export control issues, so Commerce and Treasury were definitely involved.
So, it’s a — when I bring — when I — there was period there. When I was convening Syria IPCs, it was a lot of people around one table. But almost everybody, you know, had to be there for that particular, you know, part of the conversation. So, it really, I mean if you — everybody loves to talk about whole of government, this was it, and importantly so, it would not have been doable.
And as I give credit to government colleagues, I have to give huge credit to the intelligence community. I have never had a more detailed and actionable set of information made available as we did in this process.
Obviously, I can’t say much about the nature of that in this room. But I had — I had not understood on any other effort, you know, from personal experience, exactly how good we are at knowing things and finding things out and telling people, most importantly, telling people in time for them to do something with it. And so, that’s been a special joy working on that.
And Brian Lessenberry, who’s now taking a well-deserved rest or a different work at CSIS, was just an amazing partner in that — in that regard.
To your point about the human factor, the wetware, if you will, the — you’re perfectly right to note that this is not a set of folks that the U.S. has access to by — in order to apply our well-used and very effective set of tools that we have against this issue.
We do understand that the Syrian government, the Assad regime, has every interest in keeping those people at home and well employed. So this is not really the same notion as we had in the early days of the collapse at the Soviet Union, for example, or even in the tail end of the Iraqi program. The — the Syrian government is keeping a tight rein on these folks, and it is giving them other things to do as far as we are aware.
So it may become an issue. And certainly, we don’t want to keep our — take our eye off of that ball. But it’s not — it’s not as concerning as, frankly, I thought it was gonna be a year ago. And so I hope that continues to be the case.
KIMBALL: All right. All right. I think we’ve got a question in the middle Shervin. Thank you.
QUESTION: Agla Mosqueda currently with the Consortium for Terrorism Studies. So, I have a question about scientist engagement on a slightly different aspect. I believe a number of us are running programs in the Middle East, in Southeast Asia trying to prevent scientist radicalization and promote good practice culture.
But would you be able to speak about the measures of how could we get scientists from a greater variety of countries to engage internationally? Because I believe when we had put in together the U.N. mission to — you know, to send to Syria, when the resources from certain countries with great expertise were politically less desirable, it became problematic just because of how many scientists do we have on the payroll from countries that would be perceived as politically neutral on the issue.
And I understand that not so many scientists sign up for that or are recruited. So perhaps we have a barrier of awareness that they just don’t have the option to participate. Do we perhaps have the barrier of countries’ willingness to send them there? Is there perhaps a knowledge barrier or a different standard? So what obstacles do you see to that international engagement, and how could we advance that? Thank you.
KIMBALL: And as you think about that one, do we have any other question in the audience right now? You want to raise your hand. Yes, sir? Why don’t we take one more and…
QUESTION: Hello, I’m Larry Hoffman from Johns Hopkins SAIS. I’d like to ask you a little bit about, if you could expand a little bit on the cooperation that you were able to get with the Russian Federation on this mission, particularly given the recent difficulties that we’ve had in cooperation with Russia and Russian support for the Assad regime. It seems to have been an incredibly successful diplomatic effort to get their cooperation on this issue.
And I wonder, A, how you were able to do that and are there any positive signs from this that — that might help us sort of reset the reset, if you like, and maybe get back on a more positive track on other security, international security issues with the Russian Federation?
HOLGATE: Two good questions. And I’m going to be disappointing on the first because it’s a really interesting question, and it’s one I have given zero thought to before you asked it. So thank you for posing it. Thank you for thinking about it yourself. I think you’ve identified already in the question you asked a number of the obstacles that are there.
I will say my observation, as someone who’s worked in and around the scientist engagement mission space for 20 odd years, that it’s my observation that engagement for engagement’s sake is not very attractive. And so, the question really is back into the community about what are the subject matters — subject matter that would bring scientists together. The subject matter might not have to be specifically on the thing you want to talk about. But it has to be interesting to them so that you can, so that they will convene in a serious way around a serious topic.
And then, you know, can you then find a way to link that — that scientific topic to the broader question that you’re trying to get access to, or use that as a honey pot to find out who the cool people are and then engage them separately, you know, in different ways depending on where they’re from. I mean, it’s a great, great challenge to think about. And I encourage you to continue to think about that. But — but it’s engagement to what end?
And there’s the end of countering radicalization that may be the policy end , but that’s not why they’re gonna get together. They’re gonna get together because of science that they’re interested in doing and with people that they’re interested in doing it with.
And so, the challenge is to figure out what novel or what — what value add your programs can create in that regard that they can’t find elsewhere that then comes with a side order of counteract radicalization or the programming in that case. So thank you for the question.
On Russia, this was actually — the cooperation began well before the Crimea crisis began. And in fact, the very first meetings we had with the Russians on the — this topic came from a Russian initiative to try to develop closer ties between the Russian National Security Council and the National Security Council.
And the — which was an innovative thing. I mean, it’s a — I’ve learned, you know, more from my Nuclear Sherpa, Nuclear Security Summit Sherpa work that very few countries actually have National Security Council like structures in terms of things that sit, you know, and support directly the head of state and have a coordination responsibility.
The Russians were trying to transform the Russian Security Council into more of that kind of role inside the Russian government, provided some greater accountability over their internal governance processes, and they thought that one way to do that would be to find a partnership with us and to pick some topics that we might have a shared interest in.
QUESTION: And when was that…
HOLGATE: And this was in 2012.
HOLGATE: So certainly, we were all worried about the Syria stuff. But it hadn’t come, you know, quite so drastically into the forefront of awareness. And so, the — we open — we put Syria chemical weapons on our list of things we’d like to have an NSERC dialogue about. And the Russians accepted that.
And so, I went over — I was part of the first two consultations and was very reassured that the first — the first consultation involved a senior general in the Russian military. And that was in the — that was kind of in the broad discussion of what are we all going to talk about in where we had some — some real traction in terms of how — what we might — what we might say to each other about the Syrian program.
And there we were still thinking about, you know, attacks outside Syria or, you know, the cross-border nature of the problem. We weren’t thinking about the interior part of the problem that came to be the dominant issue over time.
And then we met — we had an initial meeting in Helsinki in December of 2012, a great time to go to Helsinki, I’ll tell you that. And it was — in some ways, it was old home week because we had populated our — I mean, it was led by the National Security Council. But we had each populated our sides with our true experts from across the interagency. And as it turns out, the experts on the U.S. side and the Russian side has spent years working together on projects like Soucha .
And so, they were, you know, congratulating each other and, you know, greeting each other warmly on either side of the table. And the — we included each — some folks who are intelligence community, and there was a common language that they were able to find.
So it turned out to be extremely constructive, very business-like very substantive. And we did a lot of kind of conceptual brush clearing of, you know, understanding how each of us talks about the challenge, you know, clearing up some vocabulary issues even that needed to be clarified and to — so we were sure that we — when we were talking about things, we were talking about the same things.
And it turns out that those were the two teams that gathered in Geneva after the initial framework was being or as the framework was being hammered out. And that enabled them to — to move seamlessly into, `OK, we know what the problem is. We’ve — you know, we’ve already designed the problem. We’ve already, you know, designed the — or we have a common picture of the problem. We have a common picture of the challenges we’re gonna face. How do we put this together? What’s a rational time line? What kind of technology do we need to think about?’
We’d already briefed them, for example, on the field deployable hydrolysis system. They knew we had it. We’d told them what it was like. So it was — really without that, it would have been really hard to have come to a quick resolution. The confidence that the — the aggressive time lines in the framework were realistic and were meetable and that we both had a stake in them being met.
So that comes to the second half of your question of the motivation. It wasn’t diplomacy that brought Russians to the table. It was self-interest. They work with us on this type of issue, but also non proliferation and threat reduction issues more broadly because they share the need to do it.
And that this is — so in that case, this has been, you know, an especially bright part of our work, but also really part of a 25 year history of being able to protect our joint work on WMD threat reduction from the vicissitudes of — of the politics of the day. And while we’re certainly undergoing the greatest threat to — or the greatest challenge in our relationship since the end of the Cold War now, we are still having constructive conversations.
And as the Crimea crisis heated up, Rose Gottemoeller and Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov were very explicit with each other that we will keep this conversation out of that other fight. We are having that fight. It is a fight that we’re both committed to one way or the other, for better or for worst. But this is too important to be constrained by that. We both have an interest in getting that stuff out of Syria, getting it destroyed, and doing so on as fast a scale as possible.
The challenge in the Syria case is that, as we move from that phase to what I’m calling the accountability phase, U.S. and Russia interest begin to diverge. And while there are still constructive conversations going on, you know, the — Syria is still Russia’s client state. They’re still interested in protecting Assad.
They’re still interested in protecting their arm sales. They’re still interested in protecting their port access to the Mediterranean. They’re still — and they’re not interested in having Assad be brought up before the International Criminal Court or any other personal accountability system that would threaten that.
And so there — at some point as we — as we try to get in — get to the bottom of the discrepancies, declaration discrepancies issues, we’re gonna — our — our ways will part. Our — our interests will part.
And so, while we’re still now seeing, the Russians are saying, yes, there are still some — you know, the Syrians need to do better, there’s some unanswered questions, this whole business about there were never any documents. I mean, that’s just — that’s just silly. The Russians know that’s silly.
And so, they’re still — I think we’ve got a little bit more to do there. But I do not expect to see the same kind of alignment of interests as we go forward as we have had in the last several months.
KIMBALL: All right. Question or two more this afternoon? My — my — my crack staff doesn’t have any questions? I can’t believe it. Paul, why don’t you give it a shot? And you might have to wait a second for the microphone to come up.
WALKER: Yeah. Thanks, Laura for a nice presentation and thanks for coming today, too.
I want to ask you about trying to handle the demilitarization of the Syrian chemicals and the fact that a lot of people were surprised that our European allies all turned us down in some way to do it on land, which I think would have been perhaps a little easier and maybe even less risky than at sea.
And I’m wondering, do you think — you know, why did that happen? Did we — did we lack sufficient initiative or time? Or was it a too rushed process? Or was it just predictable that — that the ambitious schedule, you know, would have overrun all their environmental and regulatory concerns and all the rest? Could — could we have done more in some fashion to do it on land in Germany or Italy or Albania or wherever we want to do it?
HOLGATE: Well, I think you hit a — hit the answer in your last option there, which is we needed — we needed a firm, yes, we will do it within, you know, like weeks, in some cases, days. As we — as we got towards the second, third, and fourth ask, the amount of time we had to get a yes shrank and shrank and shrank. And we started with the ones that we thought would be easier, so it was kind of a, you know, backwards way of doing it. The ones — the fourth and fifth were harder ones, but we had less time to give them.
But I think it’s just that — that they had, you know, either a combination of lack of political will to find ways around or through the — the complex regulations. And I don’t want to be critical. Ours — I mean, I led a process to get us through ours, too. I mean, this is — this is not easy. But we have national security waivers on some of our wrecks. And if you — if you know how to — how to maneuver that, you can avoid having those stand in the away of a truly, you know, national security mission.
And I don’t know whether those waivers or back doors or whatever you want to call them exist in European context or not. But, it was — I think there was also a large chunk of misperception, even among officials, about the nature of the materials.
I mean, we talk about them as Syria chemical weapons. They were absolutely on the schedules of the CWC. But only the mustard was mixed. Everything else was no more toxic or dangerous to a human handling it than the standard industric — industrial toxins that were already being destroyed in many of these countries in industrial facilities.
And so, you know, chemical weapons, oh my god. It — I think it made it harder for politicians to look for those, you know, speedier ways to — to get the problem done. And so, you know, maybe that was a branding problem, but it was inevitable.
I mean, they are — they are on the list. They are banned. You know, we’re gonna call them chemical weapons. And, you know — and there’s all kinds of good reasons for that, too. But I think we paid a price for that lack of — lack of understanding and lack of kind of rational risk comparison.
KIMBALL: All right. Yes, question over here on the eastern side of the room please.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for a fascinating presentation, Samira Daniels . I – in — throughout the day, we’ve heard occasional statements that other countries don’t exhibit that same kind of urgency perhaps that the United States does in, you know, pursuing certain goals and objectives?
Do you see — do you think — do you agree with that, with that — that don’t ? And obviously, it’s — contingent on different countries. But in terms of the Middle East and South Asia, do you feel that, you know, you’re — that Westerners are more sort of scientifically driven and procedural and they are less so? I’m just curious what your opinion is.
HOLGATE: Well, I haven’t sat there in The Hague during the E.C. meetings personally to kind of, you know, see how the tone and the body language and everything goes. But I think all you have to do is look at the — at either the whip count or the failed attempts to get consensus around, you know, some more meaningful statements by the E.C. to see that no, in fact, we are not convincing everybody.
You know, there’s — there are all kinds of politics that go into a consensus-based process, and particularly, a consensus-based process with regional groupings who themselves value internal consensus in solidarity. And so, any — I mean, we’ve all had this experience where you’re talking to one country and you, you know, can — you know, look at this fact-finding mission. Look at what they found. There is no other possible explanation for what this is. Oh well, but there’s questions and, you know.
But they’ll — and that’s what they’ll say in public, even if in private they might say, `Yeah, you know, you’re right.’ And so, there is — this is a much bigger problem and one that I known you work on of, you know, free riders in a system where — where these countries are all getting the benefits of the bureaucratic technical and other heavy lifting that a certain number of countries are doing.
And they’re not even taking hard votes. They’re not even — you know, like, saying brave things out loud in many cases. And so, it’s a — it is a challenge to try to — to move forward. What that means, though, is where you do have consensus, it’s especially powerful and definitely, you know, meaningful in the fact that you could get that consensus in — in September of 2013 and, you know, keep the — keep the pressure up even if it wasn’t consensus pressure all the time was, you know — that — that was the most important consensus.
And — but we’ve not been able to assemble it since then. And I’m — I’m personally just amazed by this that the fact-finding mission results did not create this outrage among other countries. And — but it just — you know, it just kind of washed away. And I don’t know what’s — at this point, I don’t know what it’s going to take to — to re-coalesce that consensus moment we had in September of 2013.
KIMBALL: All right. And perhaps that’s also — I mean, due to the numbing effect politically, psychologically of the casualty counts and — and the war that goes on. And so, I would say that’s probably another human factor in the equation.
HOLGATE: I wouldn’t disagree with all of that, Daryl.
KIMBALL: All right. We’ve got time for one more question. And we’ll turn it over to the editor of the wonderful journal, Arms Control Today, Dan Horner. I’m biased, of course.
QUESTION: Thank you for the presentation. First, a clarification on the Russian issue. You said you expected some time in the future the — the ways are gonna part. Is that already happening? Because some of the Russian statements seem to indicate that the removal of the materials from Syria was a high priority, but now, we can sort of go back to business as usual. Is that — so is that actually already happening? That’s my first question?
And then I wonder if you could talk about, in your deliberations and concerns, how much you weigh the possibility of future use by countries of chemical weapons versus acquisition and use by — by sub-national groups and how does that weigh? And how do you assess those and which is the greater threat? Or what do you spend more time thinking about and worrying about and staying up at night thinking about? Thanks.
HOLGATE: Well, I get to give you a very bureaucratic answer to that question because that’s Jon Wolfsthal’s problem now. That’s not my problem, the state problem. My problem is the non-state actor problems. So we both stay up at late, late at night.
But the — but I’ve — I mean, and I’ll — honestly, I do — I do think that the, you know, extremely unsettled nature around the Iraq-Syria border with the nature of the terrorist threat in that area is higher than what I would see in the near term from state actors.
But, I think it comes back to this question of — and here’s something where it would be nicer if it were more than my voice saying this — is chemical weapons were militarily ineffective in Syria. I mean, whatever it was that Assad thought he was doing, it didn’t change in any fundamental way: how the rebels held land, how the rebels recruited, how the rebels fought. I mean, it was — it was tragic, and it was awful, and it was, you know, illegal and — to be — you know, shameful.
But it was not — it didn’t do a good military job. And that’s how we got to the CWC, after all, was the generals finally realized these are not — these weapons don’t work for what we need them to do. It wasn’t only the moral outrage of publics and, you know, the advocacy of policy people. It was a military judgment that these things didn’t work.
And we need to make sure that that continues to be a judgment of generals in states of — and in terms of getting at that state challenge. The non-state actor challenge, it’s a similar judgment of efficacy, but now you don’t have the kind of, you know, structured military process that comes along with the state actor.
And so, you — you have, you know — it’s a much more atomized process. You can end up with individual, you know, military leaders who have a particular perspective that, you know, is not informed by civil society and policy advisers. And so, it’s a — it’s — the barrier could be, you know, in that case, is a little lower if they had access to the — to the materials and the means of delivery.
The first question, I think here I would make a bit of a distinction between the private conversations with Russia and Russia’s public utterances. Because even though, yes, now, they are still — they are saying, you know, `Yay, Syria. They did their job. Let’s move on,’ the — they were also making similar statements all throughout the removal process.
I mean, they were highlighting, you know, the progress made and under — underselling the work yet to be done. And yet, even though that was their public posture, behind the scenes, you know, they’re saying, `Hey, get on with things. We gotta finish this. This is not helping anybody. This is not helping you, Mr. Assad.’
And so, I think it’s — the current trend is not — in public statements, it’s not necessarily that much of a difference from what we saw before. But over time, the — the public version of their — of their posture will — will become more aligned with the — probably their private version as we come into areas where their interests and Syria’s interests are more aligned, and, in particular, in making sure that, you know, that Syria does — is not — you know, that the claims that Syria that are made about the attacks in August of 2013 do not — you know, are not attributed to Syria because that’s — that’s not in Russia’s interest that that happened.
KIMBALL: All right. Well, to close out the session, I just wanted to thank you for your hard work and that of your team and the many people in this room who are part of this operation. You know, there’s an old saying — I don’t know where it comes from, “Victory has a thousand fathers and mothers,” of course.
This is — and, you know, an episode that I think illustrates, you know, how many different people in different places over time dating back years that made this mission what it was. There’s still more work to be done.
And there is — speaking more work to be done, just — if you’d just offer your thoughts very quickly about how the United States, how the world can use the April 2015, 100th anniversary of the Ypres attack as another way in which to reinforce the norm.
I heard about that this morning. I think it’s an opportunity for all of us to try to reinforce this norm, which is — is strong but, of course, needs reinforcing. So, I hope that as you — you’ve got so many things coming down your pike; I hope at some point you all can think about that and work with us and others to try to use that opportunity.
So, please everyone join me in thanking Laura Holgate for being here today.
All right. All right. And as I said, we are running out of time here. We’re running actually on schedule, but about to close out. And I just wanted to offer a few quick words of thanks to several people here who helped to make this event possible.
I mean, first of all, I wanted to thank all of our excellent speakers today from all over the world. I was blown away by some of these presentations, which took a lot of time and thought and energy to condense a lot of complex lessons and observations into a short bit. So thank you all.
Thanks everybody in the audience for your time, effort, and attention to come here.
And I want to thank a couple of people and my staff, in particular Tim Farnsworth, our communications director, for kicking me in the pants at times to make sure that we’re on schedule and for pulling everything together. And for Jackie Barrientes for design work and photography and Shervin Taheran our project coordinator for this event.
And also of course many thanks to Jonathan Tucker for the inspiration for all of this. Thank you very much. We’ll see you again at some future point. We will also — a final note, we’ll have the presentations, the Power Points, as well as the video and eventually a transcript available online at www.armscontrol.org before the holidays.
Thanks a lot everybody. See you again.