Magazine article UN Chronicle

Nearly Half a Million Liters of Chemical Warfare Agents Destroyed in Two-Year Operation

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Nearly Half a Million Liters of Chemical Warfare Agents Destroyed in Two-Year Operation

Article excerpt

The UN Special Commission on Iraqi disarmament, set up under Security Council resolution 687 (1991) concerning the disposal of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, reported that it had completed in June an important part of its mandate--the elimination of that country's declared chemical weapons stockpile.

In a two-year operation involving some 100 experts from 23 countries, the Commission oversaw the destruction of more than 480,000 litres of chemical warfare agents, including mustard agent and the nerve agents sarin and tabun, and over 28,000 chemical munitions, involving eight types of munitions ranging from rockets and artillery shells to bombs and ballistic missile warheads. it also destroyed nearly 1.8 million litres, over 1.04 million kilograms and 648 barrels of some 45 different precursor chemicals for the production of chemical warfare agents.

Two inspection teams had been deployed to Iraq between 31 May and 14 June to confirm that the destruction of declared chemical warfare agents at Al Muthanna was complete and that those areas used for destruction had been left in a safe and acceptable manner. At the end of the inspection activities, responsibility for the site had been formally handed back to the Iraqi authorities. The Commission would, however, continue to visit the site as part of its ongoing monitoring and verification activities under Council resolution 715 (1991).

High-level talks

Rolf Ekeus, Executive Chairman of the Special Commission, in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of high-level talks held in Baghdad from 24 to 26 April, reported (S/1994/520) that issues relating to the implementation of relevant Council resolutions had been discussed.

The two sides reviewed the considerable progress made since the last round of high-level talks in New York from 14 to 19 March, and noted that many actions had been undertaken, including inspections to establish the baseline for, and phase in, ongoing monitoring and verification.

In conducting the intensive inspections, the Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed their appreciation for Iraq's expeditious and positive responses to their requests for assistance and support. This enabled them to conduct inspections efficiently and effectively, and had contributed significanfly to the ongoing monitoring and verification.

Iraq made assurances that it would respect the rights and privileges of the Commission and the IAEA which, in turn, reiterated their commitment to exercise those rights and privileges in a manner that respected Iraq's legitimate concerns relating to sovereignty, independence, security and dignity, in accordance with the UN Charter, and to conduct their activities in the least intrusive manner consistent with effective monitoring and verification.

In a 22 April report on the implementation of the plan for monitoring Iraq's compliance with resolution 687, the Secretary-General had stated (S/1994/489) that in the absence of documentation to assist in verifying the latest data provided on chemical programmes, the Commission was to send a team of experts to Iraq in May to interview former senior personnel associated with the programmes. The Commission had also continued assessing Iraq's capabilities in terms of sites, activities, equipment and materials.

Good cooperation

The ballistic-missile protocol-building team had been in Iraq since 30 March and was working smoothly with good Iraqi cooperation, the Secretary-General stated. Chemical sensors had been installed and their performance was being assessed. The biological protocol-building team had started its mission on 8 April, and a team to assess plans to set up a monitoring centre in Baghdad had arrived there on 10 April.

The Commission was conducting an in-depth investigation of documents and information supplied by Iraq on expenditure for prohibited missiles. …

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