At the end of the Cold War, the United States joined together with other nations to pledge, in the unequivocal language of the Preamble to the Chemical Weapons Convention, "for the sake of all mankind, to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons." Fifteen years ago, the Convention entered into force -- banning a whole category of weapons of mass destruction.
From its inception, the Chemical Weapons Convention had two fundamental goals. The first was the destruction of all existing chemical weapons stocks. The United States, Russia, and four other countries declared chemical weapons stockpiles and pledged to destroy them under international verification. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body which verifies compliance, approximately three-quarters of the declared stocks -- amounting to tens of thousands of tons of chemical agent -- have already been destroyed, along with millions of associated munitions. The chemical weapons awaiting destruction remain subject to international oversight. Looking beyond the destruction of remaining chemical weapons stocks, the Chemical Weapons Convention as its second goal seeks to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as a threat. The broad scope of the treaty, the extensive provisions for monitoring chemical industry, and the requirement for full and effective domestic legislation provide a firm foundation for addressing current and future security challenges. Simply put, the Chemical Weapons Convention is an historic achievement in addressing the threat from weapons of mass destruction and has significantly contributed to international peace and security.
Yesterday in New York City, Acting Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller congratulated all 188 States Parties who have chosen to join the Convention. She called upon all other countries that have not yet renounced chemical weapons to join the treaty without delay, including Syria. The continuing importance and unfinished mission of the Convention is underscored by the concern about possible use of Syrian chemical weapons.
U.S. support for the global ban on chemical weapons is demonstrated by our strong commitment to complete destruction of our own stockpile. One year ago this month, Secretary Clinton reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the complete elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles in the United States and around the world. She said, "To date, we have already destroyed 89 percent of our original chemical weapons stockpile. We reaffirm our commitment to finish the job as quickly as possible in accordance with national and treaty requirements that ensure the safety of people and the protection of the environment."
As a chemist and a diplomat who has devoted years to U.S. foreign policy related to nonproliferation of chemical and biological weapons, I firmly believe the international community must continue to speak with one voice and remain vigilant, so these weapons pose no threat to people anywhere. The United States remains fully committed to the destruction of these weapons of war that has left a tragic mark on human history.
For further information about the Chemical Weapons Convention, visit our website.