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Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 12, pp. 2259-2263

Trends in processing and manufacturing that will affect implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention

G. W. Parshall

E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (retired), 2504 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806, USA

Abstract: Several new developments in synthesis science and manufacturing technology may affect the task of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) constraints on the production of toxic agents for military or terrorist purposes. The combination of automated synthesis methods and high-throughput screening protocols could potentially yield new toxic agents not specifically proscribed by the CWC, but such approaches are unlikely to seriously impact the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the near future. On the other hand, new developments in manufacturing may have a serious impact on the work of the OPCW inspectors. The wide use of versatile, multipurpose production facilities in making fine chemicals complicates the task of discerning whether a particular facility is used only for nonprohibited purposes under the CWC. New catalytic processes and automated process control permit production of toxic chemicals with fewer emissions that contaminate the environment and might provide clues to the nature of the processes being conducted. Tiny microreactors operated continuously under computer control can produce significant quantities of toxic chemicals (including CWC scheduled compounds) with a very small “footprint”within a larger production facility. These technical developments together with the dispersal of chemical production facilities and skills may seriously complicate the tasks of the OPCW inspectors.