On this Remembrance Day, we remember and honor all victims of chemical warfare. The use of chemical weapons has caused some of the most horrific deaths and injuries in modern history. The United States supports the complete ban on the production and use of chemical weapons and full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The United States also supports the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and congratulates the OPCW for the overwhelming support it received during this week’s budget vote. As a result of an intense effort by the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, this week the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention adopted a decision adding the Novichok class nerve agent to the Convention’s Schedule of Chemicals. This will make a deadly class of chemicals, like those used in the Salisbury assassination attempt in the United Kingdom, subject to strict verification by the OPCW.
Unfortunately, there are places in the world where the use of chemical weapons continues with impunity. In Syria, Bashar al Assad has used chemical weapons every year since Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013. Recently the United States presented evidence that the Assad regime used chlorine gas as a weapon in May 2019 and sarin in August 2013 in Ghouta, killing over 1,400 civilians. The Assad regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These atrocities include the use of chemical weapons. The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons must stop.
The United States commends the ongoing work by the OPCW in Syria. In particular we commend the establishment and work of the Investigation and Identification Team to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
We are proud to support the OPCW, and we urge all States Parties to fully implement the provisions of the Convention. We must stand in solidarity to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons by preserving the global norm against such use; and we must be ready to hold accountable those who choose to use chemical weapons.