Peter Korzun | 16.06.2017
Russia strictly complies with its commitments in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention – CWC). On June 12, it announced that all sarin chemical agent stockpiles had been destroyed. Before that Russia had also eliminated the stockpiles of mustard gas and soman. All in all, Russia has destroyed 99% of all stockpiles. The ones left are sophisticated munitions; it takes time to eliminate them. The remaining 1% of stockpiles is to be destroyed till the end of the year.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an international arms control treaty that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. It is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. The OPCW receives states-parties’ declarations detailing chemical weapons (CW)-related activities or materials and relevant industrial activities. After receiving declarations, the OPCW inspects and monitors states-parties’ facilities and activities that are relevant to the convention, to ensure compliance.
The CWC entered into force in 1997. 192 states have joined the convention.
The United States promised, but failed, to destroy its stocks by 2012. The complete destruction is expected to take place only by the end of 2023 at best. The efforts to neutralize the remaining munitions have slowed to a trickle in recent years. The Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado still has a long way to go to full operational capacity expected to be reached no earlier than 2018. The Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky, is being built and is expected to start operations only somewhere in 2023 – roughly eleven years after the date the US promised to destroy all the stockpiles, and eight, may be nine, years after the Russian Federation.
While raising ballyhoo over chemical weapons in Syria, the US fails to meet its international obligations. Other nations have also asked for extensions of deadlines but the United States is evidently not in a hurry to comply with the CWC and the delays are really impressive. If the US finally meets its promise of destroying all chemical weapons by the end of 2023, the process will have taken more than a quarter of a century and cost an estimated $40bn.
Meanwhile, technological and political challenges have resulted in lengthy delays. The snags on the way are multiple.
Unlike Russia, the US does not hesitate to use white phosphorus munitions. The weapon does not fall into the category of chemical weapons but as an incendiary weapon. Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons «prohibits the use of said incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas».
In fragrant violation of international law, the United States used white phosphorous shells in Iraq during the assault on Fallujah in 2004. At present, the incendiary munitions are used in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa Syria. In 2015, the United States used depleted uranium (DU) in Syria. It promised not to use DU but did it.
Although no sole treaty explicitly banning the use of DU is yet in force, it is clear that using DU runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary International Humanitarian Law (IHW). Article 36 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions requires to ensure that any new weapon, means or method of warfare does not contravene existing rules of international law. General principles of the laws of war/IHL prohibit weapons and means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, have indiscriminate effects or cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.
Banned by more than a hundred nations, US cluster bombs are used against civilians in Yemen.
In April, President Trump said the alleged Syria’s chemical attack «crossed many, many lines» to justify the US cruise missiles’ strike. Today, the reports about white phosphorous shells used by the US in Iraq and Syria are coming in. What about the US crossing the lines? Is there a better example of hypocrisy?
Police used tear gas and other chemical irritants against Occupy protesters in 2011. Tear gas is prohibited for use against enemy soldiers in battle by the Chemical Weapons Convention. The protesters in Oakland were civilians, so, formally, the police action did not constitute a breach of international law! It’s just that the police failed to give them the protection required for those who oppose the US military on a battlefield.
Known for its penchant to moralize and teach others, the United States is the biggest international law violator in the world. It uses banned weapons and ignores humanitarian norms and principles. It has already crossed all the possible lines implementing the policy of double standards but nothing stops it from high fallutin’ accusations against others. The pot just can’t stop calling the kettle black.