US nominates OPCW representative

Regular readers of Trust & Verify may recall that the last edition highlighted the ongoing absence of a US ambassador to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). On 9 July, however, a little over a week after T&V129 went to press, the White House announced that President Obama was nominating Robert Mikulak for the OPCW post. Dr Mikulak has a long, and a 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 cannot 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 muster. At present, Dr Mikulak has to fly to The Hague from Washington to attend OPCW meetings. But 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.

David Cliff, London.