Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance
December 23, 2011

Sixteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention
The Hague, The Netherlands

The following statement was submitted to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at the Sixteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on December 19th, 2011.

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The United States would like to exercise its right of reply in writing to the Iranian national paper (C-16/NAT 20, 2 December 2011) in which Iran has alleged once again that the United States was not in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention in the manner in which it recovered and destroyed pre-1991 chemical weapons in Iraq. As we have informed Iran twice previously in writing (in September 2010 and February 2011), and as we have stated at the OPCW on earlier occasions, the United States rejects as unfounded any allegation that the United States violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. United States forces secured and destroyed the referenced chemical weapons in Iraq under exceptional circumstances that were not encompassed by the procedural provisions of the Convention’s Verification Annex. These actions were dictated by the imperative to ensure that the recovered chemical weapons could not be used to threaten the Iraqi people, neighboring states, Coalition forces, and the environment, and they were fully consistent with the object and purpose of the Convention to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons. During the chemical weapons recovery and destruction operations carried out by United States forces, verification of destruction activities in Iraq by the OPCW Technical Secretariat was not feasible. Moreover, reporting these activities contemporaneously would have posed a threat to the safety and security of the personnel conducting the activity, the local population and the environment. However, the United States ensured that officials of the Technical Secretariat were made aware of U.S. activities and, when the security situation in Iraq permitted, made appropriate notification to the OPCW and the Executive Council of the actions taken. Records related to these activities were made available to the Technical Secretariat in the interests of transparency and the spirit of the Convention. The United States has participated constructively and in good faith in discussions to develop guidelines for future instances of destruction of chemical weapons in circumstances not foreseen by the Convention.

The U.S. delegation requests that this reply be issued as an official document of the Sixteenth Session of the Conference.