from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2020, Issue No. 2
February 4, 2020

Secrecy News Blog:


While the Trump Administration has retreated from negotiated arms control agreements in many areas ranging from nuclear weapons to anti-personnel landmines, the US is still committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which generally prohibits the production and use of chemical weapons.

Last week the State Department certified to Congress -- as a required condition of continued US participation in the CWC -- that the consortium of CWC member countries known as the Australia Group "remains a viable mechanism for limiting the spread of chemical and biological weapons-related materials and technology."

"Australia Group members continue to maintain controls over the export of toxic chemicals and their precursors, dual-use processing equipment, human, animal, and plant pathogens and toxins with potential biological weapons applications, and dual-use biological equipment...," wrote Christopher A. Ford, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation.

"The United States remains fully committed to complete destruction of its entire [chemical weapons] stockpile, consistent with the Convention's imperatives of public safety, environmental protection, and international transparency and oversight," according to the State Department's August 2019 report on Arms Control Compliance.

So far, over 90 percent of the total U.S. chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed, mostly by chemically neutralizing the weapons, but also partly through controlled detonations.

As noted in the latest annual report on the U.S. Chemical Demilitarization Program, there were 19 reported incidents of chemical weapon agents leaking in 2019, though the Army said that no public exposure resulted.

The report said that the Department of Defense "expects to complete destruction operations by December 31, 2023," which is the deadline set by Congress.


Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

History, Evolution, and Practices of the President's State of the Union Address: Frequently Asked Questions, updated January 29, 2020:

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement: A Summary, January 29, 2020:

The Washington Post's "Afghanistan Papers" and U.S. Policy: Main Points and Possible Questions for Congress, January 28, 2020:

Solar Energy: Frequently Asked Questions, January 27, 2020:

Challenges to the United States in Space, CRS In Focus, updated January 27, 2020:

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2020, updated January 13, 2020:

National Emergency Powers, updated December 5, 2019:

Diplomacy with North Korea: A Status Report, CRS In Focus, January 22, 2020:

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Overview of Department of Energy Sites, updated February 3, 2020:

Presidential Pardons: Overview and Selected Legal Issues, January 14, 2020:

Congressional Oversight Manual, updated January 16, 2020:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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