The United States has officially submitted to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) information on U.S. industrial sites, some of which will be subject to international inspection under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The inspections are intended to confirm that chemicals are produced or used at the sites for legitimate commercial purposes and not in any way for chemical weapons. The inspections conducted by specialized international OPCW experts are scheduled to begin this month.
"We've had good cooperation from the U.S. chemical industry to make these inspections possible, and we expect them to be reassuring to everyone that there is no cause for concern about diversions or misuse of chemicals from U.S. producers," said Roger Majak, Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
The CWC requires member countries to monitor legitimate production and use of chemicals of concern. These chemicals are used for a wide range of commercial purposes, including pharmaceuticals, ink, pesticides and fire retardants.
To date, 84 U.S. sites to be inspected handle chemicals considered most sensitive under the treaty. Commerce has not yet completed processing information on an estimated additional 475 sites that produce less sensitive organic chemicals that will also be subject to inspection. Eighteen U.S. sites are expected to receive initial inspections in calendar-year 2000.
Company information was collected and processed by the Commerce Department and then reviewed and submitted to the OPCW by the State Department. The Commerce Department will manage the inspections, including helping sites to prepare for inspections and accompanying the OPCW inspectors. More information is available from the U.S. Government's website, www.cwc.gov. The OPCW is headquartered in the Netherlands, and its membership includes 135 countries that have ratified the CWC.
The OPCW has already carried out more than 300 inspections of industrial sites in other countries, including some belonging to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, since the Convention entered into force in April 1997. The United States ratified the Convention in 1997, and Congress enacted legislation required to implement the industry verification requirements of the treaty in 1998.
In April of 2002 the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) changed its name to the Bureau of Industry and Security(BIS). For historical purposes we have not changed the references to BXA in the legacy documents found in the Archived Press and Public Information.