The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy due to the captain Francesco Schettino’s negligence and irresponsibility. There are 32 confirmed deaths.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is signed.
Participation in the Chemical Weapons Convention
|Drafted||3 September 1992|
|Signed||13 January 1993|
|Location||Paris and New York|
|Effective||29 April 1997|
|Condition||Ratification by 65 states|
|Parties||193 (List of state parties)|
Four UN states are not party: Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan.
|Languages||Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish|
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), officially the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, is an arms control treaty administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The treaty entered into force on 29 April 1997, and prohibits the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons and their precursors, except for very limited purposes (research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective). The main obligation of member states under the convention is to effect this prohibition, as well as the destruction of all current chemical weapons. All destruction activities must take place under OPCW verification.
As of May 2018, 193 states have become parties to the CWC and accept its obligations. Israel has signed but not ratified the agreement, while three other UN member states (Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan) have neither signed nor acceded to the treaty. Most recently, the State of Palestine deposited its instrument of accession to the CWC on 17 May 2018. In September 2013 Syria acceded to the convention as part of an agreement for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.
As of January 2021, 98.37% of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed. The convention has provisions for systematic evaluation of chemical production facilities, as well as for investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties.
Some chemicals which have been used extensively in warfare but have numerous large-scale industrial uses (such as phosgene) are highly regulated; however, certain notable exceptions exist. Chlorine gas is highly toxic, but being a pure element and extremely widely used for peaceful purposes, is not officially listed as a chemical weapon. Certain state-powers (e.g. the Assad regime of Syria) continue to regularly manufacture and implement such chemicals in combat munitions. Although these chemicals are not specifically listed as controlled by the CWC, the use of any toxic chemical as a weapon (when used to produce fatalities solely or mainly through its toxic action) is in-and-of itself forbidden by the treaty. Other chemicals, such as white phosphorus, are highly toxic but are legal under the CWC when they are used by military forces for reasons other than their toxicity.
The CWC augments the Geneva Protocol of 1925 for chemical weapons and includes extensive verification measures such as on-site inspections. The Geneva Protocol does not cover biological weapons, but in 1968 the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) concluded the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
After several changes of name and composition, the ENDC evolved into the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1984. On 3 September 1992 the CD submitted to the U.N. General Assembly its annual report, which contained the text of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The General Assembly approved the convention on 30 November 1992, and the U.N. Secretary-General then opened the convention for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993. The CWC remained open for signature until its entry into force on 29 April 1997, 180 days after the deposit at the UN by Hungary of the 65th instrument of ratification.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
The convention is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which acts as the legal platform for specification of the CWC provisions. The Conference of the States Parties is mandated to change the CWC and pass regulations on implementation of CWC requirements. The Technical Secretariat of the organization conducts inspections to ensure compliance of member states. These inspections target destruction facilities (where permanent monitoring takes place during destruction), chemical weapons production facilities which have been dismantled or converted for civil use, as well as inspections of the chemical industry. The Secretariat may furthermore conduct "investigations of alleged use" of chemical weapons and give assistance after use of chemical weapons.
The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the organization because it had, with the Chemical Weapons Convention, "defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law" according to Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Key points of the Convention
- Prohibition of production and use of chemical weapons
- Destruction (or monitored conversion to other functions) of chemical weapons production facilities
- Destruction of all chemical weapons (including chemical weapons abandoned outside the state parties territory)
- Assistance between State Parties and the OPCW in the case of use of chemical weapons
- An OPCW inspection regime for the production of chemicals which might be converted to chemical weapons
- International cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry in relevant areas
The convention distinguishes three classes of controlled substance, chemicals that can either be used as weapons themselves or used in the manufacture of weapons. The classification is based on the quantities of the substance produced commercially for legitimate purposes. Each class is split into Part A, which are chemicals that can be used directly as weapons, and Part B, which are chemicals useful in the manufacture of chemical weapons. Separate from the precursors, the convention defines toxic chemicals as "[a]ny chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere."
- Schedule 1 chemicals have few, or no uses outside chemical weapons. These may be produced or used for research, medical, pharmaceutical or chemical weapon defence testing purposes but production at sites producing more than 100 grams per year must be declared to the OPCW. A country is limited to possessing a maximum of 1 tonne of these materials. Examples are sulfur mustard and nerve agents, and substances which are solely used as precursor chemicals in their manufacture. A few of these chemicals have very small scale non-military applications, for example milligram quantities of nitrogen mustard are used to treat certain cancers.
- Schedule 2 chemicals have legitimate small-scale applications. Manufacture must be declared and there are restrictions on export to countries that are not CWC signatories. An example is thiodiglycol which can be used in the manufacture of mustard agents, but is also used as a solvent in inks.
- Schedule 3 chemicals have large-scale uses apart from chemical weapons. Plants which manufacture more than 30 tonnes per year must be declared and can be inspected, and there are restrictions on export to countries which are not CWC signatories. Examples of these substances are phosgene (the most lethal chemical weapon employed in WWI), which has been used as a chemical weapon but which is also a precursor in the manufacture of many legitimate organic compounds (e.g. pharmaceutical agents and many common pesticides), and triethanolamine, used in the manufacture of nitrogen mustard but also commonly used in toiletries and detergents.
A treaty party may declare a "single small-scale facility" that produces up to 1 tonne of Schedule 1 chemicals for research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes each year, and also another facility may produce 10 kg per year for protective testing purposes. An unlimited number of other facilities may produce Schedule 1 chemicals, subject to a total 10 kg annual limit, for research, medical or pharmaceutical purposes, but any facility producing more than 100 grams must be declared.
The treaty also deals with carbon compounds called in the treaty "discrete organic chemicals", the majority of which exhibit moderate-high direct toxicity or can be readily converted into compounds with toxicity sufficient for practical use as a chemical weapon. These are any carbon compounds apart from long chain polymers, oxides, sulfides and metal carbonates, such as organophosphates. The OPCW must be informed of, and can inspect, any plant producing (or expecting to produce) more than 200 tonnes per year, or 30 tonnes if the chemical contains phosphorus, sulfur or fluorine, unless the plant solely produces explosives or hydrocarbons.
Before the CWC came into force in 1997, 165 states signed the convention, allowing them to ratify the agreement after obtaining domestic approval. Following the treaty's entry into force, it was closed for signature and the only method for non-signatory states to become a party was through accession. As of May 2018, 193 states, representing over 98 percent of the world's population, are party to the CWC. Of the four United Nations member states that are not parties to the treaty, Israel has signed but not ratified the treaty, while Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan have neither signed nor acceded to the convention. Taiwan, though not a member state, has confirmed that it complies with the treaty.
Key organizations of member states
Member states are represented at the OPCW by their Permanent Representative. This function is generally combined with the function of Ambassador. For the preparation of OPCW inspections and preparation of declarations, member states have to constitute a National Authority.
World stockpile of chemical weapons
|Weapons of mass destruction|
A total of 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agent, and 97 production facilities have been declared to OPCW.
The treaty set up several steps with deadlines toward complete destruction of chemical weapons, with a procedure for requesting deadline extensions. No country reached total elimination by the original treaty date although several have finished under allowed extensions.
|II||20%||April 2002||Complete destruction of empty munitions, precursor chemicals,|
filling equipment and weapons systems
|IV||100%||April 2007||No extensions permitted past April 2012|
Progress of destruction
At the end of 2019, 70,545 of 72,304 (97.51%) metric tonnes of chemical agent have been verifiably destroyed. More than 57% (4.97 million) of chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed.
Seven State Parties, namely Albania, an unspecified state party (believed to be South Korea), India, Iraq, Libya, Russia and Syria have completed the destruction of their declared stockpiles. The United States is in the process of destruction and scheduled to complete in 2023. The destruction of Libya's Category 1 chemical weapons was completed in 2014; destruction of its chemical weapon precursors was completed in November 2017.
Japan and China in October 2010 began the destruction of World War II era chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China by means of mobile destruction units and reported destruction of 35,203 chemical weapons (75% of the Nanjing stockpile).
|Country||Date of accession/
entry into force
(Schedule 1) (tonnes)
|% OPCW-verified destroyed
(date of full destruction)
|Albania||29 April 1997||17||100% (July 2007)|
|South Korea||29 April 1997||3,000–3,500||100% (July 2008)|
|India||29 April 1997||1,044||100% (March 2009)|
|Libya||5 February 2004||25||100% (January 2014)|
|Syria (government held)||14 October 2013||1,040||100% (August 2014)|
|Russia||5 December 1997||40,000||100% (September 2017)|
|United States||29 April 1997||33,600||91%||29 April 2012 (intends by 2023)|
|Iraq||12 February 2009||remnant munitions||100% (March 2018)|
|Japan (in China)||29 April 1997||-||ongoing||2022 (commitment)|
The U.N. Security Council ordered the dismantling of Iraq's chemical weapon stockpile in 1991. By 1998, UNSCOM inspectors had accounted for the destruction of 88,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, over 690 metric tons of weaponized and bulk chemical agents, approximately 4,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals, and 980 pieces of key production equipment. The UNSCOM inspectors left in 1998.
In 2009, before Iraq joined the CWC, the OPCW reported that the United States military had destroyed almost 5,000 old chemical weapons in open-air detonations since 2004. These weapons, produced before the 1991 Gulf War, contained sarin and mustard agents but were so badly corroded that they could not have been used as originally intended.
When Iraq joined the CWC in 2009, it declared "two bunkers with filled and unfilled chemical weapons munitions, some precursors, as well as five former chemical weapons production facilities" according to OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter. The bunker entrances were sealed with 1.5 meters of reinforced concrete in 1994 under UNSCOM supervision. As of 2012, the plan to destroy the chemical weapons was still being developed, in the face of significant difficulties. In 2014, ISIS took control of the site.
On 13 March 2018, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, congratulated the Government of Iraq on the completion of the destruction of the country's chemical weapons remnants.
Following the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack, Syria, which had long been suspected of possessing chemical weapons, acknowledged them in September 2013 and agreed to put them under international supervision. On 14 September Syria deposited its instrument of accession to the CWC with the United Nations as the depositary and agreed to its provisional application pending entry into force effective 14 October. An accelerated destruction schedule was devised by Russia and the United States on 14 September, and was endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118 and the OPCW Executive Council Decision EC-M-33/DEC.1. Their deadline for destruction was the first half of 2014. Syria gave the OPCW an inventory of its chemical weapons arsenal and began its destruction in October 2013, 2 weeks before its formal entry into force, while applying the convention provisionally. All declared Category 1 materials were destroyed by August 2014. However, the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in April 2017 indicated that undeclared stockpiles probably remained in the country. A chemical attack on Douma occurred on 7 April 2018 that killed at least 49 civilians with scores injured, and which has been blamed on the Assad government.
Controversy arose in November 2019 over the OPCW's finding on the Douma chemical weapons attack when Wikileaks published emails by an OPCW staff member saying a report on this incident "misrepresents the facts" and contains "unintended bias". The OPCW staff member questioned the report's finding that OPCW's inspectors had "sufficient evidence at this time to determine that chlorine, or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical, was likely released from cylinders". The staff member alleged this finding was "highly misleading and not supported by the facts" and said he would attach his own differing observations if this version of the report was released. On 25 November 2019, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, in a speech to the OPCW's annual conference in The Hague, defended the Organization's report on the Douma incident, stating "While some of these diverse views continue to circulate in some public discussion forums, I would like to reiterate that I stand by the independent, professional conclusion" of the probe.
Financial support for destruction
Financial support for the Albanian and Libyan stockpile destruction programmes was provided by the United States. Russia received support from a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada; with some $2 billion given by 2004. Costs for Albania's program were approximately US$48 million. The United States has spent $20 billion and expected to spend a further $40 billion.
Known chemical weapons production facilities
- 1 non-disclosed state party (referred to as "A State Party" in OPCW-communications; said to be South Korea)
Currently all 97 declared production facilities have been deactivated and certified as either destroyed (74) or converted (23) to civilian use.
Related international law
- Australia Group of countries and the European Commission that helps member nations identify exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons
- 1990 US-Soviet Arms Control Agreement
- General-purpose criterion, a concept in international law that broadly governs international agreements with respect to chemical weapons
- Geneva Protocol, a treaty prohibiting the first use of chemical and biological weapons
Worldwide treaties for other types of weapons of mass destruction
- Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
Related remembrance day
- "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction". United Nations Treaty Collection. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 21.
- Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 23.
- Chemical Weapons Convention, Article 24.
- "Angola Joins the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons". OPCW. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Resolution 2118 (2013)" (doc). United Nations documents. United nations. 27 September 2013. p. 1. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
Noting that on 14 September 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic deposited with the Secretary-General its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Convention) and declared that it shall comply with its stipulations and observe them faithfully and sincerely, applying the Convention provisionally pending its entry into force for the Syrian Arab Republic
- "U.S. sanctions Syrian officials for chemical weapons attacks". Reuters. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
- "OPCW by the Numbers". OPCW. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
- "Third report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism". 24 August 2016.
- The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, THE HARVARD SUSSEX PROGRAM ON CBW ARMAMENT AND ARMS LIMITATION
- The Intersection of Science and Chemical Disarmament, Beatrice Maneshi and Jonathan E. Forman, Science & Diplomacy, 21 September 2015.
- "Syria chemical weapons monitors win Nobel Peace Prize". BBC News. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Official press release from Nobel prize Committee". Nobel Prize Organization. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
- "Monitoring Chemicals with Possible Chemical Weapons Applications" (PDF). Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. 7 December 2014. Fact sheet 7. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- "Annex on Chemicals".
- "CWC Article II. Definitions and Criteria". Chemical Weapons Convention. Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
- "CDC Facts about Phosgene". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- Jean Pascal Zanders, John Hart, Richard Guthrie (October 2003). Non-Compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention - Lessons from and for Iraq (PDF) (Report). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. p. 45. Policy Paper No. 5. Retrieved 14 March 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Chemical Weapons Convention".
- "Taiwan fully supports Chemical Weapons Convention". BBC. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- "Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia is destroying its last supplies of chemical weapons": SOPHIE WILLAIMS, Russia destroys ALL chemical weapons and calls on AMERICA to do the same, Express, 27-9-2017.
- "OPCW chief announces destruction of over 96% of chemical weapons in the world". Tass. Tass.
- "Opening Statement by the Director-General to the Conference of the States Parties at its Sixteenth Session" (PDF). OPCW. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Text by FRANCE 24. "Libya destroys last of Gaddafi's chemical weapons – France". France 24. Archived from the original on 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- "OPCW Director-General Praises Complete Destruction of Libya's Chemical Weapon Stockpile". www.opcw.org. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- Executive Council 61, Decision 1. OPCW. 2010
- "Albania the First Country to Destroy All Its Chemical Weapons". OPCW. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Schneidmiller, Chris (17 October 2008). "South Korea Completes Chemical Weapons Disposal". Nuclear Threat Initiative. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "India Country Profile – Chemical". Nuclear Threat Initiative. February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Schneidmiller, Chris (27 April 2009). "India Completes Chemical Weapons Disposal; Iraq Declares Stockpile". Nuclear Threat Initiative. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Libya Completes Destruction of Its Category 1 Chemical Weapons". OPCW. 4 February 2014.
- Syria applied the convention provisionally from 14 September 2013
- "OPCW: All Category 1 Chemicals Declared by Syria Now Destroyed". OPCW. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "Chemical Weapons Destruction". Government of Canada – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. 16 October 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "OPCW Director-General Commends Major Milestone as Russia Completes Destruction of Chemical Weapons Stockpile under OPCW Verification". OPCW. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
- Contreras, Evelio (17 March 2015). "U.S. to begin destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons in Pueblo, Colorado". CNN. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Hughes, Trevor (25 April 2015). "780,000 chemical weapons being destroyed in Colo". USA TODAY. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Progress report on the preparation of the destruction plan for the al Muthanna bunkers" (PDF). OPCW. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "Iraq Country Profile – Chemical". Nuclear Threat Initiative. April 2015. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Chivers, C.J. (22 November 2014). "Thousands of Iraq Chemical Weapons Destroyed in Open Air, Watchdog Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Shrader, Katherine (22 June 2006). "New Intel Report Reignites Iraq Arms Fight". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Tucker, Jonathan B. (17 March 2010). "Iraq Faces Major Challenges in Destroying Its Legacy Chemical Weapons". James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "Isis seizes former chemical weapons plant in Iraq". The Guardian. Associated Press. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Borger, Julian; Wintour, Patrick (9 September 2013). "Russia calls on Syria to hand over chemical weapons". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- Barnard, Anne (10 September 2013). "In Shift, Syrian Official Admits Government Has Chemical Arms". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "Depositary Norification" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Secretary-General Receives Letter from Syrian Government Informing Him President Has Signed Legislative Decree for Accession to Chemical Weapons Convention". United Nations. 12 September 2013.
- Gordon, Michael R. (14 September 2013). "U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria's Chemical Arms". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Michael Corder (27 September 2013). "Syrian Chemical Arms Inspections Could Begin Soon". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons" (PDF). OPCW. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- BBC News, 6 October 2013. Syria chemical arms removal begins.
- "Kerry 'very pleased' at Syria compliance over chemical weapons". NBC News. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Mariam Karouny (6 October 2013). "Destruction of Syrian chemical weapons begins: mission". Reuters. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Haley says Russia's hands are 'covered in the blood of Syrian children'
- "Suspected Syria chemical attack kills 70". BBC News. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- "OPCW confirms chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria". DW. Agence France-Presse/Associated Press. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
- Greg Norman (2019). "Syria watchdog accused of making misleading edits in report on chemical weapons attack". Foxnews.com. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
- CBS/AFP (2019). "Chemical weapons watchdog OPCW defends Syria report as whistleblower claims bias". cbsnews.com. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
- "Russia, U.S. face challenge on chemical weapons", Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, 7 August 2007, accessed 7 August 2007
- "Eliminating Chemical Weapons and Chemical Weapons Production Facilities" (PDF). Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. November 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "Confidentiality and verification: the IAEA and OPCW" (PDF). VERTIC. May–June 2004. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Full text of the Chemical Weapons Convention, OPCW
- Online text of the Chemical Weapons Convention: Articles, Annexes including Chemical Schedules, OPCW
- Fact Sheets, OPCW
- Chemical Weapons Convention: Ratifying Countries, OPCW
- Chemical Weapons Convention Website, United States
- The Chemical Weapons Convention at a Glance, Arms Control Association
- Chemical Warfare Chemicals and Precursors, Chemlink Pty Ltd, Australia
- Introductory note by Michael Bothe, procedural history note and audiovisual material on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
- Lecture by Santiago Oñate Laborde entitled The Chemical Weapons Convention: an Overview in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
A false emergency alert warning is sent out of an impending missile strike in Hawaii causing widespread panic in the state.
On Saturday morning, January 13, 2018, a false ballistic missile alert was issued via the Emergency Alert System and Commercial Mobile Alert System over television, radio, and cellphones in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The alert stated that there was an incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii, advised residents to seek shelter, and concluded “This is not a drill”. The message was sent at 8:07 a.m. local time. However, no civil defense outdoor warning sirens were authorized or sounded by the state.
A second message, sent 38 minutes later, described the first as a “false alarm”. State officials blamed a miscommunication during a drill at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency for the first message. Governor David Ige publicly apologized for the erroneous alert, which caused panic and disruption throughout the state. The Federal Communications Commission and the Hawaii House of Representatives launched investigations into the incident, leading to the resignation of the state’s emergency management administrator.
Escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States, including threats by both countries that they could use nuclear weapons against one another, prompted a heightened state of readiness in Hawaii. North Korea had conducted several intercontinental ballistic missile tests over the past year, most recently in November 2017, enhancing its strike capabilities. It is possible that North Korea has the capability to deliver nuclear missiles to Hawaii. Hawaii is located roughly 4,600 miles from North Korea, and a missile launched from North Korea would leave perhaps 12 to 15 minutes of warning time.
Hawaii officials had been working for some time to refresh the state’s emergency plans in case of a nuclear attack from North Korea. An October 2017 email from the University of Hawaii to students with the subject line “In the event of a nuclear attack”, containing instructions from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency on how to react in case of a nuclear attack, caused controversy; a university spokesman ultimately apologized for “any needless concern it may have caused”. Testing of the civil defense warning sirens and attack drills were also conducted in the state on the first business day of the month beginning in December 2017. On December 1, 2017, a nuclear threat siren was tested in Hawaii for the first time in more than 30 years, the first of what state officials said would be monthly drills. At 11:45 a.m. on January 2, 2018, the state conducted its monthly test of the civil defense outdoor warning siren system including the sounding of a one-minute Attention Alert Signal followed by a one-minute Attack Warning Signal. There was no exercise or drill accompanying the test. Prior to January 13, 2018, 26 drills had been conducted. Vern Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, explained that state leaders “couldn’t ignore these constant threats and missile tests from North Korea” and felt the need to prepare residents for the possibility of an attack. Officials also outlined what would happen if an emergency alert were sent: a push alert to smartphones and a message interrupting television and radio broadcasts. The J-Alert used in Japan to warn of tsunamis, etc., also uses the push message notifications.
Earlier in January 2018, U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said the commission planned to vote to overhaul the wireless emergency alert system. The proposed reforms include providing more detailed information in alerts and confining emergency notifications to a more specific geographic area. Pai said he hoped the reforms, which would take effect in late 2019 if approved by the FCC, would lead to greater use of the alert system in local emergency situations and prompt people to take alerts they receive more seriously.
The alert was sent at 8:07 a.m. Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time. People in Hawaii reported seeing the alert on their smartphones. Many screenshots of the push alert were shared on social media platforms, such as Twitter. The alert read, in all capital letters:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Local television broadcasts, including a college basketball game between Florida and Ole Miss being shown on CBS affiliate KGMB and a Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton on NBC affiliate KHNL, were also interrupted by a similar alert message, broadcast as a Civil Danger Warning. The alert message on television broadcasts took the form of both an audio message and a scrolling banner. It stated in part:
The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii. A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. If you are indoors, stay indoors. If you are outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a building. Remain indoors well away from windows. If you are driving, pull safely to the side of the road and seek shelter in a building or lay on the floor. We will announce when the threat has ended. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Take immediate action measures.
An alert message also interrupted radio broadcasts in the state. In Lihue, a resident reported hearing a message on the radio advising of “an incoming missile warning for the islands of Kauai and Hawaii”.
Culpability for the false alert was attributed to an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, who officials said was a 10-year agency veteran who had previously exhibited behavior that had troubled coworkers, according to The Washington Post. Vern Miyagi, then-administrator of HI-EMA, said the alert had been inadvertently triggered by the employee as he was working at the Diamond Head Crater headquarters during a shift change. During the shift change, a supervisor ran an unscheduled drill in which he contacted emergency management workers in the guise of an officer from U.S. Pacific Command, according to state officials. The supervisor deviated from the script, officials said, erroneously stating at one point, “This is not a drill,” although he reportedly did state before and after the message, “Exercise, exercise, exercise,” agency code to indicate a test rather than an actual emergency.
Officials said that upon hearing the supervisor’s statement, the employee, who had a reported history of having “confused real life events and drills” at least twice before and later attested in a written statement that he believed there was an actual emergency, clicked the button to send out an actual notification on Hawaii’s emergency alert interface during what was intended to be a test of the state’s ballistic missile preparations computer program and then clicked through a second screen, which had been intended as a safeguard, to confirm. An agency spokesman told The Washington Post that the employee, prompted to choose between the options “test missile alert” and “missile alert”, had selected the latter, initiating the alert sent out across the state. The employee later claimed to the Associated Press that he had not heard the “exercise” part of the phone call because a co-worker had placed it on speakerphone partway into the message, and as a result, he had been “100 percent sure” the attack was real. State officials said five other workers were present at the agency at the time and all of them recognized the phone call as an impromptu drill.
By 8:10 a.m. HST, officials later said, Hawaii National Guard Adjutant General Arthur “Joe” Logan had contacted U.S. Pacific Command and confirmed there had been no missile launch. At that time, the Honolulu Police Department was notified that the alert had been a false alarm. Officials used the State Warning Point system at 8:13 a.m. to cancel the alert, preventing it from being sent out to any phones that had not already received it, such as those that were switched off or did not have reception. The employee who originally sent out the erroneous notification did not respond when directed to cancel the alert, according to state officials. He later said he felt like he had been dealt a “body blow” upon realizing the supposed attack had been a drill, the Associated Press reported. Another unidentified worker grabbed the employee’s computer mouse and cancelled the alert when the first employee failed to respond.
Official messages refuting the emergency alert were not sent out until 8:20 a.m., according to the timeline released by officials after the incident. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency accounts on Facebook and Twitter posted messages at that time urging people to disregard the erroneous alert. Minutes later, Governor David Ige retweeted the HI-EMA message on Twitter and posted a similar message on Facebook to notify followers that the alert had been canceled. Ige later said the delay was caused in part by the fact he did not know his Twitter login information. An email from the state was also sent at about 8:25 a.m. advising that the initial alert was not correct, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Electronic highway signs were also used to spread the word that the alert had been issued “in error” and that there was no threat to Hawaii.
At 8:45 a.m. HST, 38 minutes after the initial alert was sent to smartphones in Hawaii, a second emergency alert was sent, which stated:
There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.
The second alert was sent “well after everyone from Hawaii’s congressional delegation to the U.S. Pacific Command had assured the world on Twitter that it was a false alarm”, Pacific Business News remarked.
Governor David Ige explained at a news conference that afternoon that officials “had to initiate a manual process” and obtain authorization from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to send the second alert, because there was no automated way to countermand the first alert. Those procedures accounted for the delay more than 30 minutes after officials had confirmed internally that the alert was inaccurate, according to officials.
During the 38 minutes between the first and second alerts, Hawaii’s siren warning system — which had been tested as part of a missile preparedness exercise the previous month for the first time since the Cold War — was not formally activated. Had a missile truly been launched, the Hawaii push alert should have been followed up with another set of alarms with sirens, which did not happen, as observed by some residents. Nevertheless, officials stated that some sirens did appear to go off in some communities, with some residents reporting sirens activated on Oahu a few minutes after the push notification. Little to no activity was reported at military bases in the state. Some commercial flights were reportedly delayed for a short time, although the Hawaii Department of Transportation said there were no widespread impacts at the state’s airports and harbors.
Disruptions were reported across the state. Honolulu Civil Beat reported that motorists parked inside the Interstate H-3 tunnel on the island of Oahu for shelter. Hawaii News Now reported that alarms sounded at Aloha Gymfest, an international gymnastics meet in Kailua, sending hundreds of people running for cover. Students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa reportedly headed for marked fallout shelters on campus but, finding them locked, ended up taking shelter in nearby classrooms instead. Officials at the Sony Open PGA Tour golf tournament on Oahu ordered an evacuation of the media center, while staff members sought cover in the kitchen and players’ locker room. Tourists at Kualoa Ranch in Kaneohe were reportedly taken up to a concrete bunker in the mountains by staff and told to shelter in place there. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa later said her husband had been driving on a Honolulu-area freeway and saw cars speeding at up to 100 miles per hour after the alert was sent out. Many Hawaii residents and visitors sought shelter or rushed through emergency preparations where they were. Some discounted the alarm when they realized that they heard no sirens, and that they personally saw no immediate coverage on television or local radio. Others were in areas where sirens did go off; in addition, some television stations did broadcast the alert.
The incident also created a strain on Hawaii’s telephone system. Civil Defense offices in Hawaii were inundated with calls from frightened residents asking for advice or more information, the New Zealand Herald reported. Many calls to 9-1-1 would not go through. Many wireless data services were likewise initially jammed, leaving many unable to access the Internet to confirm whether the alarm was real. Some residents called friends or family members to say goodbye.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reported that the false alert did not appear to have prompted any sort of reaction from the North Korean government.
State officials held a news conference in the afternoon of January 13 to address the incident. State officials placed former Hawaii Army National Guard commander Bruce E. Oliveira in charge of internally investigating the events that resulted in the false alert being sent out. In his report, published January 30, Oliveira faulted “insufficient management controls, poor computer software design, and human factors” for the incident.
Officials did not name the employee responsible for the error. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency head Vern Miyagi initially declined to say whether the employee, who he said felt “terrible” about the false alert, would face discipline. An agency spokesman said January 14 the employee had been “temporarily reassigned” to a position that did not allow him access to the emergency warning system, pending the result of the internal investigation. The employee was ultimately fired on January 26, following findings in Oliveira’s investigation regarding his work history and failure to follow directions. A second employee, who was also not identified and whose role in the incident was not disclosed, was suspended without pay. Toby Clairmont, HI-EMA’s executive officer, announced January 20 he planned to retire by the end of the year.
The Federal Communications Commission also announced that it would conduct a full investigation into the incident. On January 25, an FCC official announced that the former employee responsible for sending the false report was refusing to cooperate with the FCC probe of the incident. The FCC report, released January 30, faulted the state for failing to quickly notify the public and not having safeguards in place sufficient to prevent the error. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated:
Every state and local government that originates alerts needs to learn from these mistakes. Each should make sure they have adequate safeguards in place. … The public needs to be able to trust that when the government issues an alert it is indeed a credible alert.
Miyagi resigned as HI-EMA administrator the same day the state and federal reports were released. Clairmont announced his resignation a day later.
Other official actions
Then-administrator Vern Miyagi said the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency suspended tests while assessing what had happened following the incident. He also announced the agency immediately changed its procedures to require two people, instead of just one, to send out both test alerts and actual alerts. HI-EMA employees will be “counseled and drilled so this never happens again”, Miyagi said January 14.
Governor David Ige announced January 15 that he was appointing Brigadier General Kenneth Hara, Hawaii’s deputy adjutant general, to oversee a review of the state’s emergency management systems and procedures and implement reforms. The agency also moved quickly to implement a cancellation command that officials said can be triggered within seconds of an erroneous alert being sent out, which it reportedly lacked before the January 13 incident. The Hawaii emergency alert interface screen was updated with a BMD False Alarm selection the same day, addressing a system deficiency that made it difficult for the state to countermand an alert sent in error.
HI-EMA reported that some of its employees received death threats after the false alert incident. In a rare public address, Ige called the threats “completely unacceptable” and said he was “ultimately responsible” for the error.
Although Governor Ige’s office issued on February 27, 2018, a Siren and Emergency Alert System Test for March 1, 2018, the state of Hawaii did not test the nuclear warning siren in March and dropped its monthly test of the nuclear warning siren beginning on March 1, 2018.
In July 2018, the FCC issued a report and order which makes changes to EAS regulations to “improve the integrity, efficacy, and reliability” of the system and “minimize the potential for false alerts.” The changes require EAS participants to configure their hardware to “reject Common Alerting Protocol-based alerts that contain an invalid digital signature and legacy based alerts whose expiration time falls outside of specific time limits”, and report any false alarms to the FCC. The commission also implemented procedures for authorizing voluntarily participation in “live code” tests—public exercises that simulate an actual emergency in order to “promote greater proficiency” in the system by EAS operators and participants. These changes were the result of recommendations from the FCC’s report on the Hawaii incident.
At 8:18 a.m. HST on October 3, 2018, the first national Wireless Emergency Alert test, also known as the Presidential Alert text system, was broadcast by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission through cell phone towers to wireless devices. The subject read, “Presidential Alert” and the text message sent read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Since the WEA test was issued on behalf of the President, no one could opt out. The 8:18 a.m. HST WEA test lasted for 30 minutes and was followed at 8:20 a.m. HST with the fourth nationwide Emergency Alert System test which lasted about a minute and involved radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. These two tests were scheduled for September 20, 2018, but the occurrence of Hurricane Florence caused the two tests to be postponed. Although FEMA called this a national test of Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, neither the National Weather Service nor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radios participated in the tests.
Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison to record an album.
At Folsom Prison is a live album and 27th overall album by Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in May 1968. Since his 1955 song “Folsom Prison Blues”, Cash had been interested in performing at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967, when personnel changes at Columbia Records put Bob Johnston in charge of producing Cash’s material. Cash had recently controlled his drug abuse problems, and was looking to turn his career around after several years of limited commercial success. Backed with June Carter, whom he married later that year; Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison in California on January 13, 1968. The resulting album consisted of 15 tracks from the first show and two tracks from the second.
Despite little initial investment by Columbia, the album was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of “Folsom Prison Blues”, was a top 40 hit, Cash’s first since 1964’s “Understand Your Man”.
At Folsom Prison received good reviews upon its release and the ensuing popularity revitalized Cash’s career, leading to the release of a second prison album, At San Quentin. The album was re-released with additional tracks in 1999 and as a three-disc set in 2008. It was certified Gold on October 30, 1968, Platinum and 2x Platinum on November 21, 1986 and 3x Platinum on March 27, 2003 by the RIAA.
The National Geographic Society is formed in Washington, DC.
On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society’s president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society’s desire to reach out to the layman.
Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine’s format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles. Today, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions.
The Treaty of Cahuenga puts an end to the the Mexican–American War in California.
A coup d’etat in Togo ends with the assassination of the president Sylvanus Olympio
71 people are killed in Australia in the Black Friday bush fires.
The Treaty of Cahuenga puts an end to the Mexican–American War in California.
Pravda publishes an article that accuses some of the most prestigious doctors, mostly Jews, in the Soviet Union of taking part in a plot to try and poison members of the top Soviet political and military leadership.