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News | June 16, 2023

DTRA DIR Participates in Signing Ceremony at Bluegrass Army Depot

By Story by Andrea Chaney Defense Threat Reduction Agency

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Director, Rebecca Hersman, participated in a signing ceremony alongside the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, as part of her visit to Bluegrass Army Depot in Berea, Ky., June 12. DTRA and the OPCW work together on innovative capacity-building and training programs rooted in strengthening international norms against chemical weapons.

The signing comes on the heels of a recent opening ceremony of the OPCW’s new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (CCT) held in May of this year in The Hague, Netherlands. At that signing, DTRA announced additional funding will be provided to strengthen work on next-generation forensics and attribution at the CCT. This includes innovative technical projects in chemical profiling, analytical methods and equipment validation capabilities. DTRA will also fund a junior professional officer fellowship for an expert on forensics and attribution from the Middle East and North Africa or Southeast Asia.

The signing was a commitment to the OPCW that the agency is pivoting from supporting demilitarization of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile to maintaining continuity of training, advancement in research, and next-generation forensics and attribution.

Those who attended the event were a combination of leaders and representatives; such as: OPCW Ambassadors, U.S. Senators, OPCW Technical Secretariat Staff, Department of State and Department of Defense Leadership.

The destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile is nearing completion, and is scheduled to meet the treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023. The OPCW Executive Council visit to Blue Grass was the last required visit to the U.S. chemical weapons destruction facilities.
Dir. Gen. Arias emphasized the importance of moving the partnership forward regardless of the destruction timeline.

“Thanks to [DTRA] and the U.S. Government, we aren’t waiting for the end of the chemical destruction phase, we’ve already started the post-destruction phase,” said Arias. “The knowledge, expertise, skills and support of the United States has been essential to the OPCW. I feel very fortunate to have [DTRA’s] positive approach and generosity and guarantee we, the OPCW, will also respond positively,” he said.

Hersman, who participated at both significant ceremonies, said even though the destruction chapter is coming to a close, the work isn’t done.
“The U.S. Government and DTRA specifically, is really excited to continue to partner with [OPCW] in new key areas,” said Hersman. “This is a document that is a commitment to keep working together and focus on some of the areas that will be so important in the future,” she said.

For more information on DTRA’s cooperation with the OPCW and other programs, visit


DTRA provides cross-cutting solutions to enable the Department of Defense, the United States Government, and international partners to deter strategic attack against the United States and its allies; prevent, reduce, and counter WMD and emerging threats; and prevail against WMD-armed adversaries in crisis and conflict.  

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