The Week Ahead Dec. 2-8: OPCW States Gather; IAEA expands work in Iran

WeekAheadSOLOThis bulletin highlights significant events in the world of arms control in the coming days, as compiled by staff and friends of the Arms Control Association.

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– the Editors at Arms Control Today

OPCW Conference of States Parties, Dec. 2-6 in The Hague

The general conference of states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention will meet at the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands this week. The general debate will begin Monday and will be web cast. The conference is being held as the OPCW works to stay on schedule for the plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal. Further progress on the effort has been thrown into question as a result of the fact that no state has agreed to allow for the destruction of the bulk chemical agents on its territory.

On Friday 29 November, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü announced that “the United States has offered to contribute a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralise Syria’s priority chemicals, which are to be removed from the country by 31 December.” The OPCW says the neutralization operations will be conducted on a U.S. vessel that is now undergoing modifications to support the operations and to accommodate verification activities by the OPCW.

For a detailed analysis of the success of the effort so far and the looming challenges, see: “Ridding Syria of Chemical Weapons: Next Steps,” by Ralph Trapp and Jean Pascal Zanders in Arms Control Today, Nov. 2013.

IAEA Expands Inspections Inside Iran

In the P5+1/Iran framework agreement concluded Nov. 24 after marathon talks in Geneva, Iran agreed to allow the IAEA additional monitoring and on-site inspections including:

  • daily, rather than weekly, IAEA access for inspectors at the Natanz and Fordow enrichment plants;
  • IAEA access to centrifuge assembly and production facilities;
  • earlier notification and information regarding any new nuclear facilities;
  • updated design information on the Arak reactor and more frequent on-site inspections at Arak; and
  • IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.

On Nov. 28, the IAEA announced that Iran had invited the Agency to visit the Arak heavy water production plant on Dec. 8.

In addition, officials from the IAEA and Iran will meet again on Dec. 11 to begin discussions on moving forward on the Agency’s stalled investigation of experiments with potential military dimensions as agreed in November.

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