NOOTDORP (Nether­land): The world’s chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday that the process of destroying tens of thousands of tonnes of declared chemical stockpiles will be completed “within the next few weeks”.

The watchdog, which also unveiled its new chemical laboratory and high-tech facility outside The Hague, warned that new challenges to fight chemical weapons were emerging such as threats posed by artificial intelligence.

“More than 70,000 tonnes of the world’s most dangerous poisons have been destroyed under the supervision of the OPCW,” said Fernando Arias, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

A small remnant left in the US “will be destroyed within the next few weeks,” Arias told journalists on a tour of the new facility, which opens its doors next week on Friday.

Since the Chemical Weapons Convention, the treaty that bans the use of toxic arms, was implemented in 1997, the OPCW had destroyed 72,118 tonnes of stockpiles declared by countries around the world, or 99 per cent.

“Around 127 tonnes of declared weapons remained to be destroyed at two facilities, one in Denver, in Colorado, as well as at the Blue Grass chemical facility in Kentucky,” a senior OPCW official said.

“After 26 years, this is a major achievement for the organisation,” she added.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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