U.S. and Russia in material breach of Chemical Weapons Convention

The United States and Russia missed the deadline for the destruction of their chemical weapons, April 29, 2012, required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) treaty.   The U.S. reports destroying 90% of its chemical weapons and promises to complete the process by 2023.   Russia reports 57% of its stockpile destroyed and a promise to complete the process between 2015 and 2020.

Georgetown University law professor David A. Kaplow summarized the meaning of this noncompliance:

“[T]he ostentatious failure [to complete destruction on time] places the United States and Russia into a position of material breach of the CWC, even if their violations are not the result of bad faith or deception and even if the retained CW inventories carry little true military significance.”  David A, Kaplow, [Vol. 6:319 Journal of National Security Law & Policy, 6:319

Albania, South Korea, and India were all on time with their destruction of these weapons.

Both Israel and Myanmar signed the treaty but failed to ratify it by law.  As a result, the treaty has not entered in to force for either country.  This failure prevents any of the measures for inspection and verification.

The United States and the Russian Federation both signed the treaty in 1993.  The treaty went into force for the U.S. in April 1997 and Russia in May 1997.

Syria notified the UN Thursday of its intent to sign the document and plan to send the technical information necessary to allow signature.

With Syria joining the CWC, only four states failed to sign the treaty:  Angola, Egypt, North Sudan, and South Sudan.


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Michael Collins

DC area

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