Australian chemical weapons expert Professor Bob Mathews has won a $65,000 international peace prize.
Prof Mathews, who once warned the prime minister John Howard not to expose troops to biological weapons in Iraq, shared the inaugural OPCW-The Hague Award with the Finnish Institute for the Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (VERIFIN).
The award was set up with the proceeds of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’s 2013 Nobel Peace Prize win. It recognises individuals and non-profit, non-governmental organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to achieving a world free of chemical weapons.
According to the OPCW, Matthews, an OAM recipient, dedicated his career to the disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons.
“He made significant contributions to the final drafting of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), as well as to its establishment, implementation and promotion as a unique instrument eliminating an entire category of weapons of mass destruction,” the OPCW stated.
Prof Mathews recently represented Australia at an OPCW conference as head of the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation NBC Arms Control Unit and is a a senior fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
His time at DSTO nearly came to an end in 2004, when he wrote the personal letter to then PM Howard saying that while having Saddam Hussein in power was “undesirable but stable”, “there are no reasons at the present time to justify supporting a US-led invasion of Iraq”.
He said there was no evidence that Hussein had substantial stockpiles of usable WMD and that by joining the US-led invasion, Australia would increase its own risks at home, as it was a “serious distraction to the fight against terrorism”.
Prof Mathews will receive his award at the OPCW Headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands on December 1.
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