On March 4, 2018, the Russian Federation used a military-grade nerve agent it developed, frequently referred to as a “novichok,” in a brazen assassination attempt on two individuals in Salisbury, the United Kingdom. The attack was the first-ever use of novichoks, which attack the human central nervous system and are deadly.
In response to this horrific attack, the United States worked closely with allies and partners at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, the Netherlands, to subject novichok chemicals to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) strict verification regime. As the United States Delegation emphasized on November 25 at the OPCW’s annual Conference of the States Parties (CSP), doing so will deter and prevent the further development and use of deadly novichok weapons.
On November 27, the OPCW CSP agreed by consensus to adopt two decisions to add novichoks, including the specific nerve agent used by Russia in Salisbury, and other highly toxic chemicals, to the CWC’s “Annex on Chemicals” targeted for rigorous verification.
These landmark decisions reaffirm the international community’s resolve to deter and prevent the use of chemical weapons – and preserve the norm against such use – strengthening international peace and security.