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Statement To 42nd Executive Council of the OPCW

Statement to the Forty-Second 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

The Hague, The Netherlands
September 27, 2005

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

I am happy to see the Ambassador of Spain, Alfonso Dastis, back in the Chair, and as always, it is a pleasure to see so many familiar faces once again. And I want to offer a special welcome to those new arrivals in The Hague, particularly my fellow Ambassadors, who are attending their first Executive Council session. My delegation and I look forward to working with all of you in the coming week and well beyond this Executive Council session.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a number of critical questions to address in the next few days. Our work is all the more important as this is the last Council session before the November Conference of States Parties. I am certain that with a cooperative spirit and goodwill, we will be able to reach agreement on the significant issues on which we must take a decision. And I pledge to you, Mr. Chairman, the full support of my delegation to achieving a successful outcome at this meeting of the Executive Council.

Certainly there is no more important responsibility for the Council than to decide on the budget for the coming year so that it can be submitted to the Conference for its approval. The United States appreciates the effort the Director General has put forth in submitting a budget with zero nominal growth, but which also contains important new initiatives that address the needs of the organization.

Mr. Chairman, while we find much that is admirable in the draft budget, we do have some concerns. The budget initially presented was a significant improvement in transparency and clarity, but it rested upon a dangerously shaky foundation -- assumptions about the workload and income associated with Article IV and V inspections that my government viewed as unrealistic. Monitoring chemical weapons destruction, an TS essential responsibility, is labor intensive; it accounts for most inspector activity. It is also an important source of income, under the "possessor pays" principle established in the Convention. Unfortunately, this activity is also notoriously difficult to predict.

Chemical weapons destruction is an extraordinarily complex undertaking that poses legal, operational, and technical difficulties. As a result, even the most careful plans are subject to unforeseen changes and adjustments. In past years, the amount of inspection activity taking place at such facilities has typically been 30-40% lower than the projected workload. Basing our budget on 100% achievement of 2006 activity levels planned in early 2005, flies in the face of that experience.

Here, then, is our dilemma: We need to provide the Technical Secretariat with the staff and resources to fully and effectively monitor chemical weapons destruction. Failure to do so would jeopardize one of our most central goals. But at the same time, if our assumptions about inspection activity at destruction facilities are overly optimistic, then some of that work may never happen; the expected income may never materialize; and we may be forced, as we were in 2001, to savagely cut expenditure for international cooperation, industry inspections, and other vital programs in order to balance the budget.

We were, accordingly, pleased to receive the Director-General's request for updated information. We have provided this information, as have other possessor states, and these updates warrant significant adjustments to the draft budget. We need to bear in mind, however, that these updates reflect only developments that have occurred to date. The OPCW's history tells us that we cannot tell what further unforeseen developments will occur, or where, or when --but that we can confidently expect that such developments WILL occur. We need, therefore, to make every effort to ensure that our budget is realistic and risk-averse. I call upon all members of this Council to work in a cooperative fashion and do what is best for the financial health of this fine organization.

Mr. Chairman, this budget contained a number of important initiatives, which we support. We note, however, that it did not contain any new proposals concerning the training and development of Inspectorate and Verification staff. We raise this not as a criticism, but as an invitation to the Director-General: as the OPCW loses experienced inspectors due to the implementation of tenure and other factors, we believe that the States Parties should be prepared to ensure that the OPCW's verification professionals have the support and training they deserve and need to maintain an unrelenting standard of excellence.

One additional point on the 2006 draft program and budget; we support the increase in the number of industry inspections, and believe that within the proposed budget level, further increases in the inspection frequency for other chemical production facilities, or so-called "OCPF" facilities are warranted. We hope that agreement on the 2006 budget can be reached this week, and the U.S. will work energetically to achieve that result.

Mr. Chairman, 2 years ago, the Conference of the States Parties, acting on the unanimous recommendation of this Council, decided that it was "imperative" that member states fulfill their basic obligations under Article VII "not later than" this year's Conference. In other words, the Conference established a deadline for compliance with Article VII. That deadline is now almost upon us.

The recent extensive report prepared by the Technical Secretariat on the status of implementation efforts by all States Parties demonstrates that significant progress has been made in the last 2 years. We greatly appreciate that report, which will be invaluable in helping us assess what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. We want to express our appreciation to the members of the Technical Secretariat for their efforts to assist member states, particularly to the Legal Advisor, Ambassador Santiago Onate, and to Ralf Trapp.

For its part, the United States has worked closely and cooperatively with the Technical Secretariat and many member states. We have developed an Implementation Assistance Program and our experts have joined the Technical Secretariat's experts on bilateral visits to 12 capitals and plan to visit seven more by the end of 2005 to provide assistance in establishing a National Authority and drafting legislation. We will continue to provide such assistance as long as there is a need.

Over the past 2 years, many states have worked hard to fulfill their obligations under Article VII. A number of them have managed to do so. Many others still have some way to go, but have clearly demonstrated their commitment. All of these states have taken their obligations seriously and deserve our support.

The TS report, however, also makes clear that some member states have not even taken the most basic steps to fulfill their Article VII obligations. We cannot understand, for example, why 17 states that joined more than 2 years ago have failed to establish or designate a National Authority. We also cannot understand why 21 states that have yet to submit required information on their legislative and administrative measures have not drafted legislation and submitted it to their legislative bodies for approval.

Mr. Chairman, the Article VII issue represents a clear test of the Council's seriousness in promoting the effective implementation of the Convention. The task now before the Council is to recommend what measures need to be taken to ensure that member states fulfill their Article VII obligations.

It is important to note that the States Parties agreed to this deadline 2 years ago. The Council should not now indicate that the States Parties really didn't mean what they agreed to by entertaining discussions on re-extending the Article VII deadline, or by not taking any action to act on such matters of non-compliance. Such behavior undermines the credibility of the Council and the relevancy of the Convention itself. It is incumbent upon all of us to distinguish between those that have taken their obligations seriously and worked hard, and those that have ignored their obligations by doing little or nothing.

At the 41st Executive Council meeting in June, the United States submitted a paper with proposals for measures to be adopted by the Conference to ensure that states meet their Article VII obligations. Our proposals are fair and measured. They recognize that many states have taken action, but need some additional time to adopt legislation. For that reason, our proposals incorporate a grace period and continued assistance, but also require more detailed reporting to the Council so that it may monitor what is being accomplished. At the same time, the proposals reflect our conviction that states that have not tried to fulfill their obligations under the Convention also do not have a legitimate claim to benefits outlined in the Convention.

The U.S. delegation looks forward to a serious discussion with other delegations during this session on how best to ensure that all states meet their Article VII obligations. We welcome comments on our proposals, as well as further proposals from others. We urge that an intensive effort be undertaken during this week to work out a recommendation to the Conference that will enjoy the support of all members of the Council.

Mr. Chairman, in October 2003, the 8th Conference of States Parties extended the Russian Federation's 45% and 100% destruction deadlines "in principle," without setting specific dates. The United States believes that setting the date for when Russia will destroy 45% of its stockpile remains a significant item of business before the Council.

It is incumbent on all CW possessor states to provide important assurances that they plan to destroy their stockpile as quickly as feasible. As the world's largest possessor of chemical weapons, it is important for Russia to provide such an assurance by not allowing the question of when it plans to have 45% of its stockpile destroyed to linger.

It has been 4 years since Russia requested an extension of its 45% deadline and a year and a half since the original treaty deadline passed. Russia has previously provided public information indicating that it plans to meet the 45% deadline in 2009 which disclosure we welcomed. We simply believe that the Russian plan for meeting the 45% destruction deadline in 2009 should become a formal CWC deadline and it would be timely and helpful to do so sooner rather than later.

The United States believes that the establishment of the 20% deadline, by the Conference in 2003, had a positive effect on the forward progress of Russia's CW destruction program. Similarly, we believe that establishing a firm date for the 45% deadline will further energize CW destruction efforts in Russia. Setting a date provides donors with an internationally accepted benchmark that permits governments to facilitate planning for assistance to the Russian CW destruction program. As a result, Mr. Chairman, we look forward to discussing this important issue later.

Mr. Chairman, I also want to touch briefly on two additional items. First, we believe that it is time to stop "treading water" and resolve several of the long-standing industrial issues in order to concentrate on more pressing issues, such as ensuring submission of complete and timely Article VI declarations. In particular, we believe that Schedule 1 captive use is ripe for a recommendation by the Executive Council in time for a decision at the November Conference. We call on all interested delegations to work toward that goal.

Second, on the proposal, which you Mr. Chairman, and the Conference Chairman, have put forth to schedule the 2006 Conference for December 6-9, the United States strongly supports this proposal. We appreciate the initiative undertaken by the two chairmen and the Technical Secretariat to find an arrangement that will allow for the best possible scheduling of four Executive Council meetings and a Conference at the end of the year. Such a schedule would allow for the most productive work schedule, and the U.S. hopes that a decision can be taken this week that will allow the TS to lock in facilities for the 2006 Conference for those proposed dates. We also hope that a decision can be taken to schedule further conferences in ensuing Decembers.

Mr. Chairman, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, I believe that with a cooperative spirit, we can achieve consensus on all these critical issues. My delegation and I look forward to working with you, the Director General, in whom we have the utmost confidence, and all delegations to ensure that we have a successful session and will be able to reach decisions on key issues that we can forward to the Conference. Thank you.

Released on October 3, 2005

ENDS

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