Protechnik hosts Chemical Weapons Convention analytical chemistry course

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Centurion’s Highveld Techno-Park was the venue for an important analytical chemistry course in line with strengthening implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Held at Armscor’s Protechnik Laboratories in May/June, the course attracted 23 scientists from 13 African countries – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania and host South Africa.

The two-week Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) course aims to strengthen co-operation with Africa on implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, officially the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. It entered into force in April 1997 as an arms control treaty administered by the OPCW. Open source intelligence has it 193 states are parties to the convention.

Those attending the course at Protechnik had, according to the latest and first Armscor newsletter of the year, opportunity to conduct and verify samples, examine degradation of chemical warfare agents, observe instrument usage and software as well as method validation, analysis and basic laboratory equipment maintenance.

Protechnik is the only facility in South Africa regarded as a single small scale facility (SSSF) as set out in the Chemical Weapons Convention regulations. These see periodic inspection by suitably qualified OPCW personnel.

The Centurion-based facility is a strategic component of Armscor’s Research and Development Department. It is an applied chemistry and biochemistry facility with a primary focus on chemical and biological research.

Biomedical studies focusing on characterisation and identification techniques for biological warfare agents are on its can-do list as well as technical support under contract to the SA Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction on technical aspects related to implementation of the convention.