U.S. Ambassador: Iran Failed to Declare All Chemical Weapons

On November 22, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) alleged that Iran failed to declare all its chemical weapons to the group. “The United States is also concerned that Iran is pursuing Central Nervous System-Acting Chemicals for offensive purposes,” Ambassador Kenneth Ward told participants at an OPCW conference. The OPCW, based in The Hague, has 193 member states and has a global mission to eliminate chemical weapons. Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, dismissed the U.S. claims. The following are excerpted remarks by U.S. and Iranian officials.  


U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Ward

Ambassador WardThe United States has had longstanding concerns that Iran maintains a chemical weapons program that it failed to declare to the OPCW. The United States is also concerned that Iran is pursuing Central Nervous System-Acting Chemicals for offensive purposes. These efforts are especially concerning because Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability. I would like to highlight three examples of Iran’s declaration failures:

•    First, Iran failed to declare its transfer of chemical weapons to Libya in the 1980s. When the post-Gadhafi Libyan government found these weapons in 2011, Iran never declared the transfer of the weapons, despite OPCW formal requests to States Parties about their origin. They were clearly of Iranian origin as evidenced by the Farsi writing on the boxes containing the artillery shells.

•    Second, Iran has not declared all of its riot control agents. Iran has marketed delivery systems and chemicals, including CR at defense expos. Iran has not declared any holdings of CR.

•    Third, Iran failed to submit a complete chemical weapons production facility declaration, specifically a CWPF filling capability. In light of the discovery of chemical-filled artillery projectiles and aerial bombs that Iran transferred to Libya and assessed Iranian-origin chemical-filled 81mm mortars found by Iraq during United Nations Special Commission inspections, the United States assesses that Iran filled and possessed chemical weapons. Iran, however, did not declare a CWPF filling capability.

—Nov. 22, 2018, in remarks at the Fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (REVCON IV)


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif


Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

“During the Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in The Hague on Thursday, the US mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) once again levelled groundless accusations against the Islamic Republic, which we strongly reject.”

“Based on the Conference procedure, the Iranian mission to the OPCW will give an appropriate response to these baseless accusations at the end of the general debates.”

“The crystal-clear point here is that the US is the only OPCW member state with chemical weapon arsenals, which has so far failed to fulfil its commitment to destroy them.”

“At the same time, the US sides with the Zionist regime’s chemical weapons program and levels such wrong and false accusations against Iran.”

—Nov. 23, 2018, in a statement