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38th Session of the Executive Council of the OPCW

Thirty-eighth Regular Session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Ambassador Eric M. Javits, Head of the U.S. Delegation
Opening statement to the Executive Council of the OPCW
The Hague, The Netherlands
October 12, 2004

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates,

Our meeting this week is an especially important one. Our agenda addresses key issues that will shape the future of this organization. Because of their importance, these issues are not always easy. But we have demonstrated in our deliberations and decisions of the last 2 years a collegial spirit. I am confident that with continued goodwill and cooperation, this week we will be able to take the decisions we must to advance the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I pledge the full cooperation and support of the United States delegation to that effort.

The most important question before the Council is the proposal by Libya, with the support of 17 other States Parties, for a technical change to the Convention to allow conversion of the facility at Rabta. Libya desires to convert the Rabta chemical weapons production facility to produce low-cost pharmaceuticals to treat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis throughout the African continent and the developing world. The United States supports Libya's proposal. As the Director-General has previously reminded us, under Article XV of the Convention this Council has an obligation to make a clear, unambigous recommendation to the States Parties to either accept or reject Libya's proposal: this is not a matter we can defer.

The proposed technical change is fully consistent with the Convention and transparent to all States Parties. It would allow the Executive Council to set the deadline for submission of a request to convert a chemical weapons production facility, and the Conference to establish the earliest practicable deadline for completion of the conversion.

This approach is based, in part, on similar Convention provisions for destruction of chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities when deadlines have expired for an acceding State. The proposal will work not just for Libya, but for any future acceding State that may possess a chemical weapons production facility and legitimately wish to convert it for purposes not prohibited by the Convention. The United States is committed to the principle of "equal treatment;" what applies to Libya shall also apply to future acceding States. The adoption of this technical change will correct a disincentive for non-member states to accede to the Convention. In short, the United States places great importance on adoption of this technical change by the Council, not only for the immediate benefit which will accrue to people in Africa and developing nations, but for the contribution it will make toward achieving universal adherence to the Convention.

Mr. Chairman, I would also like to discuss the action plan for implementation of Article VII obligations. The United States believes that full implementation of Article VII is a crucial challenge for this organization.

Every delegation here is aware of the unanimous adoption last April of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. This was, in our view, an appropriate response to a very clear and present threat to global peace and security. The fundamental objective of this important resolution is to keep weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery out of the hands of terrorists and rogue regimes.

The resolution requires states to enact effective export and transshipment controls, criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and secure all related materials within their borders. By requiring all UN member states to adopt and enforce effective legal and regulatory standards to prevent proliferation, Resolution 1540 sharply underscored the need for full implementation of Article VII.

The status report before us is much clearer and more focused than previous reports. That has made even more apparent the substantial amount of work needed before the Tenth Conference of the States Parties next year. We are encouraged by the information that many State Parties are working on legislation and other measures to fulfill their Article VII obligations. We are, however, concerned by the relatively meager results to date. It is scandalous that some States Parties have not even designated a National Authority.

We note States Parties' active engagement in the numerous national implementation and national authority conferences that have been held around the world, and in active bilateral efforts involving the Technical Secretariat or States Parties that have offered assistance. The United States continues to pursue bilateral contacts, coordinate efforts with the Technical Secretariat, respond to inquiries from States Parties, and participate in regional workshops. We believe that such efforts, by both States Parties and the Secretariat, must continue and even be intensified. As always, the United States stands ready to help nations seeking to fulfill their Article VII obligations.

We need to robustly coordinate and monitor these activities and State Party efforts to meet Action Plan requirements over the coming year. This includes compiling information on requests for assistance and the types of assistance States Parties require, identifying member states that can provide such assistance, and, most importantly, tracking the progress of individual States Parties in meeting their obligations. This will provide us with a transparent, factual basis for our deliberations at the culmination of the Action Plan.

In the end, though, each State Party is responsible for meeting its own commitments. We are confident that the large majority of member states will follow through and be in compliance by the time of CSP-10 a year from now. At that point, member states will need to consider how to deal with those who still have not fulfilled their Article VII obligations.

We are encouraged that real progress is being made toward achieving universality by 2007, as indicated by the historic decision of Libya to join and by the recent accessions of the Solomon Islands and Sierra Leone. We look forward to welcoming others as States Parties, including Iraq once its duly elected government is in place. The United States must reiterate, however, the importance of improving coordination within the Technical Secretariat and between the TS and member states in efforts to encourage States not Party to join the CWC.

Mr. Chairman, as everyone here is aware, we are engaged in extensive work to prepare the organization's budget for 2005. This budget is particularly significant, as it will be the first one completed in a results-based budgeting format. That format is something of a work in progress, and needs to be further refined, but we are moving toward a document that defines in a more measureable way what we expect the Technical Secretariat to accomplish, and why. If we are to make effective use of limited resources, and achieve real, lasting results, then this is a reform that is greatly needed.

Let me make clear that the United States supports the overall increase requested by the Director-General and the broad outlines of the budget and programme that he has put forward. We believe that it meets the requirements of the organization to carry out the various tasks assigned by the Conference of the States Parties or required by the Convention.

We appreciate the exhaustive efforts of the co-facilitators, Gordon Eckersley of Australia and Ian Mundell of Canada to ensure full transparency for both member states and the Technical Secretariat. We also appreciate the information provided by the TS in response to requests from delegations. We understand that during the course of this Council session, there will continue to be in-depth discussion on the 2005 budget and programme. I must emphasize the importance of reaching at least an informal, tentative agreement on the budget before the Conference of States Parties meets. Resolving our differences in that much larger, very busy setting, with only a few days and a crowded agenda, will only be more difficult.

I am pleased to note that since our last session, as we reported during Monday's informal meeting on CW destruction, the U.S. has recently started up a fourth continuously operating CW destruction facility, located in Umatilla, Oregon. Two other facilities are already constructed and, If all goes as planned, will commence operations during 2005.

As we all know, the Technical Secretariat, with the endorsement of both the Conference of States Parties and the Review Conference, has been actively exploring means of "optimizing" the use of verification resources--finding ways to verify destruction more efficiently, without sacrificing effectiveness. The TS has already implemented such measures in India and Russia.

As the State Party that currently has the largest number of operating CW destruction facilities, it is important for us to work closely with the TS in developing acceptable and feasible approaches for each U.S. facility. Important progress has been made, as those of you who attended yesterday's informal consultations will have heard in some detail. The Technical Secretariat is currently testing some of these ideas and approaches at a U.S. CW destruction facility to assess their feasibility and verification effectiveness.

I want to emphasize our commitment to an open and transparent process working cooperatively with the TS on "optimizing" verification resources and informing member states of the outcomes. We want the Council to understand what is being done at our facilities and to feel confident in its effectiveness.

With regard to industry issues, we are disappointed that there are no items ready for a decision at this Council session. Numerous important issues need to be addressed, and it is necessary for the OPCW to come to grips with them. For example, a recent TS report indicates that only 22% of States Parties submitted their 2003 Annual Declarations on Past Activities within the Convention timeline. We request the Technical Secretariat to continue issuing these reports to ensure that States Parties remain aware of the problem and urge that delegations and the Technical Secretariat vigorously pursue a solution to the problem of late submission of declarations. This will become increasingly critical as we move the organization toward electronic submissions.

There are other long-standing issues, as well, that need political attention. For example, we are concerned that the verification plan for the U.S. chemical weapons destruction facility at Aberdeen, Maryland has remained under consideration without being approved for over a year. During this period, the facility has been conducting destruction operations. We are fully aware of the importance of this issue to certain delegations and the sensitivities involved, and we are committed to finding a mutually acceptable resolution. I want to emphasize, however, that failure to reach a decision undercuts not only the authority of the Council but also the verification provisions of the Convention. As such, it can no longer be considered a bilateral issue, but one that affects all member states.

Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by reiterating the commitment of the United States to working with you, the Director-General and other States Parties to move ahead on the important work that is before us. Thank you.

[End]

Released on October 12, 2004


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