On November 28th 2019, as a consequence of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) updated its Chemical Weapons Convention and added Novichok type nerve agents to the list of banned chemical weapons:
After months of wrangling, the 24th conference of states-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) agreed on Nov. 28 to update the list of Schedule 1 chemicals banned by the treaty to include the advanced nerve agents known as Novichok.
Novichok was developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War years before the CWC entered into force in 1997. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that it was used in the attempted assassination of Russian spy-turned-double-agent Sergei Skripal in 2018.
(See here for the full article from the Arms Control Association).
However, Novichok has been used again to kill or injure, in the recent poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. As is well known, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly condemned Russia:
Angela Merkel said there was "shocking information" that showed "beyond a doubt" that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny was "an attempted murder with nerve agent" after a toxicology test in Germany showed that the opposition leader had been targeted with Novichok.
Merkel said Navalny was "the victim of a crime intended to silence him." She said the gravity of that fact made it important for her to "take a clear stance."
The chancellor said the case raises "very serious questions that only the Russian government can answer — and must answer," adding, "the world will wait for an answer."
Regarding Merkel's comment "The chancellor said the case raises "very serious questions that only the Russian government can answer — and must answer," adding, "the world will wait for an answer.". I can imagine that there are only three possibilities over the Navalny poisoning, and these are the questions that Merkel - and the rest of the world - wants answered:
Novichok was manufactured or stored by the Russian state, and they were responsible for its use after it had been banned: i.e. the state officially sanctioned the attempted murder and was responsible for its use against Navalny.
Novichok was manufactured or stored by the Russian state and unsanctioned actors have been able to obtain and subsequently use it against Navalny, and the Russian state failed to prevent it.
Novichok was manufactured and deployed by unsanctioned actors, and the Russian state has failed to prevent its manufacture and use.
All three of these possibilities raise serious concerns about the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, so my question is: what action, if any, will signatories to the CPC take in response to another use of a nerve agent classified as a chemical weapon banned by the treaty?
The CPC in Article IX allows for inspections and in article XII allows for a series of measures against non-compliant States, including sanctions and the referral of the use of chemical weapons to the United Nations Security Council, but have there been any calls for that so far, as the nerve agent is Russian, the victim was Russian and it's use was on Russian soil? Does that have a bearing on the response ? Will there be an investigation into Russia about the proliferation and use of banned chemical weapons following the Navalny poisoning?