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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2004

Thirty-sixth 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
Remarks to the Executive Council of the OPCW
The Hague, The Netherlands
March 23, 2004

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

I would like to begin by taking a moment to extend a particular welcome to the distinguished Ambassador of Spain, H.E. Carlos Manuel de Benavides y Salas, and to express through him to the people of Spain the heartfelt sympathy and unwavering solidarity of the American people for the tragic loss and suffering resulting from the infamy of March 11th. The bombings in Madrid remind us, yet again, that terrorists thrive on fear and destruction. If terrorists gain access to chemical weapons, there can be no doubt that they would use them against innocent civilians as callously and viciously as they do conventional explosives. We must ensure that they are not given such access. Let us then carry out our work with a renewed sense of purpose.

If the tragedy in Madrid reminds us of our purpose, another recent development demonstrates the promise of this Convention -- a world without chemical weapons. On December 19, 2003 Libya announced that it had been conducting talks with the United States and the United Kingdom on its weapons of mass destruction program and in a pathbreaking statement Libya announced that it had, of “its own free will,” agreed “to get rid of these programs and to be free from all internationally banned weapons.” Libya then acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention on January 6, 2004 and the treaty entered into force for Libya on February 5th. This truly was a significant step toward universal adherence to the CWC.

Mr. Chairman, since this is the first time that Libya has been represented in this chamber, I want to take this opportunity to issue a warm welcome to the Libyan Ambassador, and, through her, to the government of Libya. This is one of those rare occasions when a state has volunteered to rid itself of its WMD programs -- and we applaud Libya’s decision.

Libya submitted its initial data declaration, on time, to the OPCW on March 5th. The United States, United Kingdom, and the Technical Secretariat all provided technical advice to the government of Libya in preparation of its initial declaration. The credit, however, must be extended to that small group of Libyan chemical experts in Tripoli who labored for weeks to complete the declaration forms. We are truly appreciative of the excellent cooperation that the government of Libya has displayed throughout their WMD disarmament process.

The government of Libya’s desire to eliminate its chemical weapons program extends beyond just words and its declaration. Thanks to the hard work by the Technical Secretariat on the agreed detailed plan for the destruction of Libya’s unfilled chemical weapons, chemical weapons demilitarization in Libya has begun. The Technical Secretariat has already overseen the destruction by Libya of over 3,000 unfilled chemical munitions in a transparent and verifiable manner.

Mr. Chairman, the United States notes that Libya is considering conversion of the former chemical weapons production facility at Rabta to produce low cost pharmaceuticals for the African continent and the developing world. The United States supports the Libyan effort to convert the Rabta facility, provided that it is done within the legal framework of the Convention and in a manner that is transparent to all States Parties.

The United States and United Kingdom also will be working with Libya in the near term to assist in the identification of potential agent destruction technologies and to ensure that all CWC obligations are met, including Libyan requests for extensions to the intermediate timelines for destruction.

Mr. Chairman, as the Director-General noted in his press conference on March 5 when he received the Libyan declaration, the action taken by Tripoli underscores the importance of achieving universal membership in the OPCW. It is essential for all of us to make the case to those countries that are not States Parties that the Libyan example is one which should be emulated. The United States will be working energetically to do so.

We are making progress toward universality. In the last three months, besides Libya we have welcomed Belize, Tuvalu, Palau, and Chad to the Convention. But the threat of CW remains, not least because some countries still pursue chemical weapons programs. We must demonstrate consistently and forcefully to such countries that pursing CW is unacceptable and will be counterproductive to achieving other key national objectives.

Syria is a prime example of a State not party to the CWC that has sought CW-related precursors and expertise from foreign sources. We believe Syria has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and is trying to develop more toxic and persistent agents. We urge Syria to follow Libya’s example and forego these weapons, join the CWC, and work with the OPCW to destroy its stockpile and production capability.

North Korea is another State not party to the CWC that we believe has acquired dual-use chemicals that could be used to support its long-standing chemical warfare program. We believe North Korea’s chemical warfare capabilities include the ability to produce bulk quantities of nerve, blister, choking, and blood agent. We also believe North Korea possesses a variety of delivery means for these chemical weapons. We strongly urge North Korea to join the CWC and declare its stockpile and production capability. Working with the OPCW and other member states, it should destroy these weapons once and for all.

Simply expanding membership is not enough, however. Members must vigorously implement the Convention. It is important that we all work actively to meet the milestones in the Article VII action plan to ensure States Parties fulfill their Article VII obligations by the 10th Conference of the States Parties in late 2005. We believe it is reasonable to expect that by late 2004, all States Parties will have designated a National Authority and submitted draft legislation to their parliaments or other appropriate bodies for approval. Establishing the national authorities, domestic laws, and administrative measures that can fully implement all the requirements of the Convention are obligations of every State Party and critical to achieving the goals set forth in the Convention. The United States stands ready to help nations fulfill their Article VII obligations. We will pursue bilateral contacts, continue to respond to States Parties’ inquiries, and participate in regional workshops. Moreover, the United States continues 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. It is a matter of urgent concern, therefore, that to date only 11 States Parties have provided responses to the Technical Secretariat as called for by the Action Plan. Without this much-needed information, it will be difficult for the TS and other States Parties to provide support and assistance in achieving our collective goals. I exhort all States Parties to respond without further delay.

Mr. Chairman, the increasing pace of OPCW activity, as reflected in our efforts on universality, on national implementation, and, of course, on verification, make it even more imperative that the organization achieve maximum administrative efficiency. That is why the implementation of Results-Based Budgeting is critical for this organization. The United States recognizes that the move to RBB will be complex and at times frustrating. We are under no illusions about the challenges inherent in establishing specific performance indicators. However, we have no doubt that such a move is essential to ensuring that the Organization is able to meet the tasks we, as member states, have put before it. If implemented properly, RBB will give us tools to focus our efforts against clearly defined objectives, and then to judge the effectiveness of our work by the results.

Similarly, it is clear that the OPCW has to move even more quickly to maximum utilization of information technology of the highest caliber. The goal of the United States is fully operational electronic submission of industrial declarations by States Parties, and electronic processing of these declarations and verification-related information by the Technical Secretariat. This is what is commonly referred to as “IT” -- information technology. The United States submits its industrial declaration in electronic format and encourages other States Parties to do the same. With current demands on resources, the Organization must take advantage of these electronic tools that can increase effectiveness.

There are enormous national security benefits to be achieved for all States Parties through information technology with respect to verification, and to achieving the goals of the Convention. At the same time, the United States shares the concern of many States Parties that the security of the electronic data systems employed must be independently confirmed. The United States encourages the Technical Secretariat to seek independent confirmation that its data systems meet international security standards.

I recognize that all of this work must be done at a time when the Organization is still coming to grips with the difficult implementation of the tenure policy. We believe that the tenure policy, although wrenching, is necessary for the long-term effectiveness of this Organization. The United States was certainly under no illusions about the challenge of implementing this policy and the impact it would have on the staff. I am glad to see that the Technical Secretariat is taking steps toward reducing the impact on those employees who are departing by implementing specific measures to ease the transition. Surely the staff of this Organization deserve every consideration, having served it with dedication, competence, and loyalty.

Mr. Chairman, this week we hope to make substantial progress on industry issues. We have at least two decisions that finally appear ripe for adoption after prolonged deliberation, and a number of proposals for EC report language on important issues, including streamlining and harmonization of declaration formats, refining the facility agreement process, and improving procedures for clarification of declarations. I hope we can and will take constructive action on these issues at this Session. Completion of these and other long-standing issues will enable the Council to focus on other challenges in industry implementation, including a selection methodology for “other chemical production facilities.”

On a related note, industry verification continues to suffer from late, inaccurate, and incomplete declaration submissions. The United States calls upon the Technical Secretariat to report on this issue and to highlight where Technical Secretariat assistance and State Party work is most needed to rectify this deficiency.

Finally, I would like to commend the efforts made by the Technical Secretariat and States Parties to ensure more productive Executive Council sessions. In our view, more work needs to be done, particularly in the areas of focusing the agenda on issues that are ripe for decision, and more fully exercising the oversight responsibilities of the Council, but the steps that have been taken are very positive.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would simply like to thank you for your full year of distinguished service to the Council, and pledge my delegation’s support in this, your final Council session as chairman.


Released on April 5, 2004

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