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Report from IUPAC-Sponsored Symposium


Prohibiting Chemical Weapons

IUPAC Workshop, "Impact of Scientific Developments on the Chemical Weapons Convention," 30 June to 3 July 2002, Bergen, Norway

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by Edwin D. Becker

Bergen, Norway, was the site of an IUPAC Workshop on "Impact of Scientific Developments on the Chemical Weapons Convention." The workshop, held 30 June to 3 July 2002, brought together 80 participants from 33 countries–scientific leaders in chemical synthesis, analysis, and industrial processing, along with experts in chemical weapons.

The Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been ratified by 145 countries ("States Parties"), went into effect in 1997. It prohibits the use of chemical weapons, provides a schedule for the destruction of existing stockpiles of chemical weapons, and mandates international inspections to verify weapons destruction and to preclude the production of new chemical weapons. The operation of the treaty during its first six years will be examined at a Review Conference to be held by the States Parties beginning 28 April 2003.

The IUPAC Workshop was designed to highlight advances in synthetic methods and in chemical processing technology that could pose additional challenges to inspectors in verifying compliance with the treaty and to identify new analytical methods that might facilitate inspections. A report from IUPAC to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is being prepared. This report will provide scientific input into the political decisions to be made at the Review Conference. As part of the dissemination effort, the report will be sent to IUPAC’s National Adhering Organizations, Associate NAOs, national chemical societies, and the National Authorities of the 145 States Parties. It also will be posted on the IUPAC Web site.

Organizing committee (from left): Alan Hayes, UK; Pieter Steyn, RSA; George Parshall, USA; Douglas J. Raber, USA; Leiv K. Sydnes, Norway; Ted Becker, USA; Detlef Männig, Germany; and Chris Murphy, USA.
Photo credit: L.O. Orjaseter, Norwegian Chemical Journal

The workshop was held in very pleasant and extremely well-appointed facilities at the University of Bergen. All local arrangements were handled superbly by Dr. Leiv K. Sydnes, professor of chemistry at the University, and current IUPAC vice president. IUPAC President Pieter S. Steyn and Dr. John Gee, acting Director of OPCW, addressed the opening session. Background on OPCW and reviews of scientific advances were presented in 21 lectures. Three working sessions permitted the participants to examine major issues in small groups, and a concluding session, chaired by IUPAC Past President Alan Hayes, summarized the findings and provided substantive material for the IUPAC report. Articles based on the lectures will be published in Pure and Applied Chemistry early in 2003.

The workshop was conducted as part of IUPAC Project No. 2001-057-1-020, with financial support from the MacArthur Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, U.S. National Academies, NATO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Amersham Health AS, University of Bergen, Royal Society (London), and the International Council of Chemical Associations.

Edwin D. Becker is secretary general of IUPAC. He has been instrumental in organizing the Chemical Weapons Workshop.


> Published in Chem. Int. 24(5), 2002

Page last modified 28 August 2002.
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