Environmental News Service. October 17, 2008.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - In a step towards the global elimination of chemical weapons, South Korea has become the second country to destroy its declared chemical weapons stockpile. The country beat its December 31, 2008 deadline by at least three months.
The accomplishment, which took place since June, has not been announced publicly because South Korea has requested full confidentiality under the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty that requires the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide.
South Korea is referred to officially as "the other state party," or "a state party" at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the implementing and inspection agency for the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The U.S. Ambassador to the OPCW, Eric Javits, recognized South Korea's achievement in his statement to the OPCW Executive Council on Tuesday during its fall meeting in The Hague.
"Since our last meeting, quietly and without the public recognition it rightly deserves, a state party completed the destruction of its entire chemical weapons stockpile becoming the second state party to do so, and before its deadline," said Javits.
"We extend our warmest congratulations and deep appreciation for a job well done," he said. "With this accomplishment, we were brought one step closer to achieving a world without chemical weapons."
U.S. M55 rocket loaded with a poisonous chemical is disassembled at a U.S. Army facility in Umatilla, Oregon. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army )
Dr. Paul Walker, director of Global Green USA's Security and Sustainability Program, has been following this issue.
"The elimination of several thousand tons of deadly nerve agents in South Korea marks a major historic initiative in global abolition of chemical weapons, in implementation of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, and in demilitarizing the Korean Peninsula," he said today.
"South Korea deserves our sincere congratulations in destroying its entire chemical weapons arsenal and making the Korean Peninsula a more stable and peaceful region," said Walker.
Founded in 1993, Global Green USA is the American arm of Green Cross International, which was created by former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev "to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future by reconnecting humanity with the environment," the organization states on its website.
Global Green USA estimates the size of South Korea's chemical weapons stockpile was 3,126 metric tonnes.
"This is such a major positive disarmament, nonproliferation, and confidence-building accomplishment by South Korea today, I hope that it will publicly acknowledge its success and encourage North Korea, which has not yet joined the international treaty regime, to follow suit," said Walker.
Eleven countries have yet to fully join the Chemical Weapons Convention, including at least four countries - Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and Syria - which some allege may be possessor states; 184 countries are parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1997.
"Perhaps the accession of North Korea to the CWC could now be included in the Six-Party Talks as a follow up to South Korea's elimination of chemical weapons and as an important confidence-building measure for establishing a Korean Peninsula zone free of all weapons of mass destion," he suggested.