U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Thirty-fifth 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
December 2, 2003

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

This has been an active and productive year in the work of the OPCW. In 2003, the First Review Conference and the recent Conference of the States Parties built a strong foundation for the further development of the Organization, and set clear goals. For the United States, the highlights of the Conference of the States Parties included reaching agreement on: action plans for universality and for the implementation of Article VII; requests of the United States, Russia, and another State Party for extensions of destruction deadline; and a program and budget for the coming year that provides for a substantial overall increase, which will support continued organizational reform and a more robust program of activity.

This final Council session of the year 2003, Mr. Chairman, is an excellent opportunity to discuss priorities for 2004. And you can be assured that you will have the full support of the United States delegation at this session.

The United States believes this organization can collectively be proud of the energy and cooperative spirit demonstrated in working out agreed action plans on Article VII national implementation measures and on universality. An equal amount of energy and cooperation will now be required in 2004 and beyond to ensure full implementation of these approved action plans. Although monitoring destruction of chemical weapons is very important, it must not overshadow the crucial parallel objective of combating proliferation. Therefore, there needs to be a continued push for universality and for ensuring all member-states meet their Article VII national implementation obligations.

March 1, 2004 will be a key benchmark on the road to State Party compliance with Article VII obligations. By that date, States Parties in need of assistance are expected to inform the Technical Secretariat of what assistance they require. States Parties able to provide assistance are also expected to inform the Technical Secretariat about what types of help they can offer. The Technical Secretariat will then submit to the Thirty-Sixth session of the Council in mid-March a report covering State Party requirements, capabilities, and recommendations. We look forward to active discussion of that report at that time.

The United States stands ready to help nations fulfill their Article VII obligations. We plan to pursue bilateral contacts, to continue responding to States Party inquiries, and to participate in regional workshops. We also encourage other nations to provide assistance, where and how possible. Moreover, the United States stands ready to work with and assist the Technical Secretariat in its effort to develop its implementation support program, as called for in the Plan of Action. In addition to the voluntary contribution that we have already made to projects undertaken by the International Cooperation and Assistance Division, we will continue to provide a cost-free expert to the Technical Secretariat to assist states in fulfillment of Article VII obligations.

In our view, key Article VII goals include: establishment of a national authority, enactment of national implementing legislation (including penal measures), and establishment of measures needed for timely and accurate submission of all required national declarations. The Ninth Conference of the States Parties in late November 2004 will be an important point for reviewing progress.

The United States is also encouraging the Technical Secretariat to take immediate steps this year and in early 2004 to implement the action plan for universality. An important first step was the Director-General’s designation of Mr. Huang Yu, Director of External Relations, as the TS point of contact for implementation of the action plan. Additional key steps include: identifying regional points of contact, scheduling a coordination meeting as soon as possible, and developing a comprehensive annual document on planned universality-related activities. The United States looks forward to assisting in implementation of the universality action plan in 2004 and strengthening the commitment and capability of the international community to acheive the global elimination of the chemical weapons threat.

The transparent destruction of chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities is one of the Organization’s important missions. The United States notes with satisfaction and appreciation that Albania yesterday for the first time outlined to the OPCW the state of their demilitarization activities. This reflects an encouraging development in support of openness. The United States hopes that this will become a trend. We also look forward in 2004 to broadened participation in the informal meetings on destruction of chemical weapons stocks and production facilities.

While progress in chemical weapons destruction continued in 2003, possessors have much work to do in 2004 and beyond. There will be difficult debates ahead on technical issues associated with chemical weapons destruction, but there is one indispensable standard that must be met: this Council, the Technical Secretariat, and all States Parties must have confidence that the treaty’s destruction requirements and standards are being fulfilled. If this measure of accountability is not met, all of us will have failed in our duties.

It is with this background -- and with regret -- that I must bring one issue to the attention of the Executive Council. Since March 2003, the United States has had before the Council the facility agreement and detailed plans for verification of destruction of mustard agent by a two-step process at the Aberdeen chemical weapons destruction facility. These documents, agreed to by the Technical Secretariat, reflect that high standard of accountability. We have sought to address all questions raised and we are disappointed that after nine months, the Council is still unable to take action in approving these documents. We understand the main issue holding up consensus focuses on the declaration of the facility involved in the second step of this CW destruction. Opposition to declaring the facility used in the second step suggests that only the first step of this two-step CW destruction process should be included in treaty requirements. The United States is troubled with the explanation that the issue of declaration of this facility is the only reason given for not joining consensus. We believe our approach of transparency and accountability is the right one. It is consistent with the object, purpose and spirit of the Convention. To do otherwise, we believe, could have the impact of undermining treaty obligations. We urge that these documents not be held up any longer. The Council needs to act to move this issue forward. We look forward to discussing the U.S. position on this issue with all delegations to facilitate approval by the Council.

Mr. Chairman, Director-General Pfirter and the Technical Secretariat have worked hard to improve the operations of the organization. For this they deserve great credit. However, there is still room for improvement. Let me outline some of the areas that both the Technical Secretariat and the Council should focus on in 2004. One urgent priority is the effort to rationalize and seek efficiencies in the verification regime, without sacrificing any of its protective verification measures. Admittedly, this will require no small effort, but we are committed to the task and much work can be done in 2004.

A second urgent priority is the fully operational electronic submission of industrial declarations by States Parties and electronic processing of these declarations and verification-related information by the Technical Secretariat. The United States is now submitting its industrial declaration in electronic format and encourages other States Parties to do the same. There are enormous benefits to be achieved for all States Parties with regard to verification and their own national security, and also with regard to achieving the goals of the Convention. At the same time, the United States shares the concern of many States Parties that the security quality of the electronic data systems employed must be independently confirmed. The United States encourages the Technical Secretariat to seek independent confirmation early in 2004 that its data systems meet international security standards.

Let us not forget, however, that declarations submitted, whether electronically or on paper, need to be complete, accurate and timely. To date, the track record is, regrettably, not good. For the sixth year in a row, a full third of States Parties did not meet the Convention-established timelines for complete and accurate data declarations.

On the industry side, there are several issues that need to be addressed in the coming year. Indeed, industrial matters may well require a much larger portion of our time and attention. Streamlining and harmonization of declaration formats, improving the facility agreement process, and establishing procedures for clarifications of declarations affect nearly all States Parties and will go far in rendering the Convention more user-friendly and efficient. Facilitations on long-standing issues such as captive use and low concentration limits must be completed so new work can begin. The Council will likely face many new challenges in the industrial arena, ranging from sampling and analysis to adopting a methodology for selection of so-called “other chemical production facilities.” Furthermore, we call upon the Council to increase efforts to strengthen the collection, review and harmonization of required data, which will be instrumental in resolving import and export discrepancies.

Another priority in 2004 is continuing to pursue financial and administrative reform. The United States welcomes the move toward results-based budgeting. This will help to ensure the money of member states is used effectively to achieve our mutually shared goals. It will be an invaluable measuring tool, enabling wiser decisions on future budgetary expenditures. But it is not a panacea. At the political level, the Council will still need to engage in hard choices about the budget level and use of funds. At a technical level, the Technical Secretariat must continue to improve its ability to forecast expenditure, make other improvements that are independent of the results-based format, and develop useful reporting that will let the Council assess the results after a budget has been implemented.

The Council must also finally reform the Article IV/V financing system, which continues to suffer from delays in destruction activity. There is more than one way to address this problem, but the Council needs to choose one suitable path and work on the details.

Finally, we praise the efforts that have been made by the Technical Secretariat and States Parties to ensure more productive Executive Council sessions. And we look forward to receiving a paper from the Technical Secretariat with a list of concrete proposals for further improvements for the Council’s consideration. In our view, areas needing improvement include: timely availability of documents for Council sessions, focusing the agenda on issues that are ripe for decision, and more fully exercising the oversight responsibilities of the Council. The United States also hopes that, in the coming year, the Council will focus greater attention on the importance of compliance.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I have shared with you, the Council, and the Technical Secretariat ideas on priorities for 2004. This is not an exhaustive list. I look forward to listening to the views of my colleagues as we collectively strive to make 2004 the best year yet for the Executive Council and the OPCW. Thank you, my colleagues, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.


  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.