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Budget a Concern for Global Chemical Weapons Org.

Budget Issues a Concern for Global Chemical Weapons Organization

United States lays out its agenda for November meeting in the Netherlands

Washington -- Budget concerns are the first order of business for the head of the U.S. delegation to an international arms control organization in preparation for an all-members conference in November.

Ambassador Eric M. Javits, head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told the organization's executive council meeting in The Hague September 27 that the United States appreciates the effort shown in preparing a budget that not only has zero nominal growth, but "also contains important new initiatives that address the needs of the organization."

Javits said the 2006 budget, as initially presented, "rested upon a dangerously shaky foundation" of assumptions about the workload and income "that my government viewed as unrealistic." He explained that since governments for whom inspections are carried out pay for the OPCW, basing income on performing all of the planned inspections "flies in the face of … experience." In the past, between 60 percent and 70 percent of the planned inspections have been accomplished, with a corresponding shortfall in revenue.

"Chemical weapons destruction is an extraordinarily complex undertaking that poses legal, operational, and technical difficulties," Javits said. "As a result, even the most careful plans are subject to unforeseen changes and adjustments.

"[I]f 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," he said.

Javits also made the following points in his remarks:

• The United States favors increasing the number of industry inspections, as well as increases in the inspection frequency for other chemical production facilities.

• As the OPCW loses experienced inspectors due to tenure and other factors, member nations should ensure that the organization's verification professionals have the support and training they deserve and need.

• Some member states have not taken the most basic steps to fulfill their obligations: 17 members that joined more than 2 years ago have failed to establish or designate a national authority; 21 members 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.

• The United States favors setting a date on which Russia will destroy 45 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile. All chemical weapons possessor states must provide assurance 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 percent of its stockpile destroyed to linger," Javits said.

The transcript of Ambassador Javits' statement can be found at the State Department Web site.

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