July 14, 2017, The Hague, The Netherlands.- Members of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) endorsed the plan submitted by the Republic of Panama for the destruction of eight (8) abandoned chemical munitions located on San José Island. The operation will take place in the last quarter of 2017.
The destruction of these old chemical weapons is the result of a historic cooperation agreement between Panama and the United States of America, based on Article IV, paragraph 12, of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. Through the bilateral agreement, the United States will finance and execute the operation to remove the chemical munitions. In addition, the operation is subject to monitoring and verification by the OPCW.
The plan includes the destruction of eight (8) chemical munitions, identified during a technical inspection of the OPCW on the island in 2002. The operation will last between six and eight weeks from September to November.
A group of specialists from the United States will train personnel of the Technical Explosives Unit of the Panamanian National Police in the process of destruction and verification, which will give Panama an installed human and technical capacity to address these types of contingencies. The logistics includes the equipment, facilities and measures to guarantee the safety of the personnel involved and of the environment.
Opting for bilateral collaboration, and with the technical support of the OPCW throughout the process, Panama will achieve the results it has sought for decades. In addition, the demarche of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and collaboration between the Ministries of Security, Health and Environment will finally allow Panama to take concrete actions to dispose of chemical weapons in its territory.
The Panamanian ambassador to The Netherlands and representative to the OPCW, Willys Delvalle, presented the plan for the destruction of chemical munitions and its subsequent verification at the organization’s 85th Executive Council, which was publicly supported by Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala.
Ambassador Delvalle was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of the Presidency, Salvador Sánchez, the Deputy Minister of Security, Jonattan Del Rosario, the Director of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Farah Urrutia, and their technical teams.