US nominates OPCW ambassador

Regular followers of Trust & Verify Online may recall a recent story highlighting the ongoing absence of a US ambassador to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). But not, it would seem, for all that much longer. On 9 July, a press release from the White House announced that President Obama was nominating Robert Mikulak for the OPCW post. Dr Mikulak has a long and strong track record in the chemical weapons field, having served as director of the State Department’s Office of Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction since 1996. Prior to that, he worked for three years as deputy head of the US delegation to the Chemical Weapons Convention Preparatory Commission. He also currently serves as the US representative to the OPCW’s Executive Council.

The nomination is an important step for the Obama administration’s arms control agenda. The US can’t represent its interests fully at the OPCW without a permanent high-level diplomatic presence there—and with the destruction of its chemical weapons behind schedule, the US needs as much support and goodwill at the organisation as it can get. At present, Dr Mikulak has to fly to The Hague from Washington to attend OPCW meetings. Hardly an ideal arrangement. As Eric Javits, the last US envoy to the OPCW has contended, the US needs a permanent representative at the chemical weapons body or it risks being accused of arrogance and of not being interested in the views of others.

Source: ‘Obama Nominates OPCW Envoy For Ambassadorship’, Nuclear Threat Initiative, 12 July 2010