The EU support to the CTBTO

On 12 October 2015, the Council of the EU adopted a new decision in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). As such, Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1837 is the sixth European action since 2006, bringing the total amount of EU voluntary contributions to around 19 million euros.

The new Council Decision provides support to the CTBT verification regime in three main areas: Sustaining the International Monitoring System (IMS) Network, upgrading on-site inspection capabilities, outreach and country-level capacity building.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo emphasized the fact that “without the European Union’s support we could not have reached the current well-advanced status in the build-up and operational capabilities of the CTBT verification regime. This includes the EU’s help to developing countries to build capacities in CTBT verification technologies, thus getting buy-in from these countries into the world’s largest and most sophisticated multilateral verification system (…).”

It is worth noting that all 28 EU Member States have signed and ratified the CTBT. Besides, the EU Member States’ contributions amount to around 40% of the CTBTO’s budget.

COUNCIL DECISION (CFSP) 2015/1837 of 12 October 2015 on Union support for the activities of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) in order to strengthen its monitoring and verification capabilities and in the framework of the implementation of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Six-monthly Progress Report on the implementation of the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (2015/I), 20 July 2015.

The EU at the OPCW

The 80th session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was held in The Hague on 6 October 2015. On this occasion, Mr. Ambassador Pierre-Louis Lorenz (Luxembourg) gave a statement on behalf of the European Union, in which the main European positions vis-à-vis the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the OPCW were recalled.

On the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, while there is mounting evidence that chemicals continue to be used as weapons of war as stated by the reports of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), the EU welcomes UNSC Resolution 2209 condemning the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria. According to the statement, “chlorine has been dropped from helicopters, an asset that only the Syrian government possesses.” Besides, the EU expresses its concern about the “insufficient information provided by the Syrian government” regarding many outstanding issues, such as the lack of original documentation, undeclared R&D facilities, questions about a ricin programme, etc. Whereas Syria acceded to the CWC in October 2013, many concerns remain which could undermine the authority of the chemical prohibition norm. According to the EU, “it is time for the Syrian Arab Republic to face its responsibilities”, including its financial responsibilities.

As regard to the EU support to the OPCW, it is worth noting that the EU Council Decision 2015/259/CFSP for the years 2015-2017, which was adopted on 17 February 2015, made available to the OPCW some 2.5 million EUR to support various activities such as promoting universality, national implementation, international cooperation, the Africa Programme and implementing lessons learned from the Syrian operation. This Council Decision was the sixth voluntary contribution of the EU to OPCW activities since 2005. Besides, the EU has continued supporting the OPCW for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons programme during the first half of 2015. It did so by extending the validity of the Decision to contribute from the IcSP 12 million EUR to the OPCW Trust Fund.

The future of the OPCW was also raised by the EU, stating that the EU and its Member States have started a reflection to discern the post-CW destruction stage. According to the latest progress report on the implementation of the 2003 EU Strategy, the future relevancy of the CWC is deeply linked with the re-emergence of chemical weapons, chemical use by non-state actors and terrorists, and convergence with biology, inter alia. The EU statement to the Executive council adds the importance of an adequate verification regime, “including investigations of alleged use and challenge inspections”.

Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Pierre-Louis Lorenz (Luxembourg) at the 18th session of the OPCW Executive Council, The Hague, October 6, 2015

Upcoming events

November 16-18, 2015:Forty-Fifth Session of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO

November 26 - 27, 2015: IAEA Board of Governors, Vienna

November 30 - December 04, 2015:14th meeting of the States parties to the Ottawa convention, Geneva

November 30 - December 04, 2015:20th Conference of the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), World Forum Convention Centre, The Hague

March 29-30, 2016:Nuclear Industry Summit 2016, the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C.

March 31-April 1, 2016:Fourth Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.