Today the General Debate continued so we had 2 full sessions of national statements. I posted quick entries on the U.S. and Iran statements since they were by far the most anticipated and interesting. In addition to the U.S. and Iran we heard from Saudi Arabia, China, Russian Federation, Singapore, Japan, Pakistan, Serbia, Switzerland, Mexico, Algeria, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Ukraine, Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Peru, Republic of Korea, Australia, Brazil, Tunisia, Yemen, Norway, Sudan, El Salvador and Mongolia. The rest of the statements were not too controversial. Daniel Feakes managed to keep a running list of each state and their key points for both the morning session and afternoon session. Overall, the U.S. statement was not terribly strong or confrontational. The statement of Iran followed later in the morning, and while it was not without a few controversial statements, it could very well have been heavier. Nearly all states listed CWC universality or CW stockpile destruction as their first priorities for the RevCon and the next 5 years. Only a handful of states brought up the issue of non-lethal weapons or riot control agents and concerns over their use by other states parties. Nearly all of the developing nations pressed Article XI as one of the main pillars of the CWC and called upon the developed nations to increase the sharing of scientific and technical information and equipment fr purposes not prohibited under the convention with them. The developed nations almost entirely ignored Article XI in their statements, and those that didn’t only devoted one or 2 lines to it. A far as CWC news goes… The U.S. State Department has posted the statement read by Amassador Javits this morning. Also there are:
- Destruction of chemical weapons top priority of convention, China says – China View, April 8, 2008.
- Universal Membership Crucial for CWC, Officials Say – Global Security Newswire, Chris Schneidmiller, April 8, 2008.
- Nations Demand Adherence to CW Disposal Deadlines – Global Security Newswire, Chris Schneidmiller, April 8, 2008.
- Nations to Consider Future of Chemical Weapons Pact – Global Security Newswire, Chris Schneidmiller, April 3, 2008.
OPCW is starting to put national statements up on the Second Review Conference site.
So far statements from Bangladesh, Serbia, Switzerland (French and English) and Tunisia (French only) have been posted, and hopefully other statements will begin showing up here also.
Other new items on the RevCon site include the press release “Watchdog Agency: Treaty to Eliminate Chemical Weapons Is Succeeding” and an image gallery.
Earlier this morning the U.S. spoke, and now it is time for the awaited address by Iran. Everyone is holding their breath, and Iran did pull a few punches in its statement but did not make any direct acusations.
Iran is looking forward to an objective review of progress of the CWC and set agenda for the next 5 years. They are especially looking to preserve non-discriminatory nature of convention, and it must be addressed in a holistic manner.
Iran reaffirms the legally binding commitments of parties for all provisions, particularly those on destruction. 10 years after CWC entry into force, the international community still faces threat of CWs. OPCW has notable achievements over the past 10 years, but need to build on this and ensure full implementation by universality, destructions, non-discriminatory implementation of Article XI and provide assistance to CW victims.
Iran maintains that complete destruction is the most important foundation of the CWC and integral to its credibility. Failure to meet 2012 is clear and serious case of non-compliance. Iran suggests that there may be domestic policy in place to maintaining stockpiles as “security reserves” and for that reason the slow pace of destruction is a matter of serious concern. Non-possessor states remain vigilant and monitor progress.
Iran also brought up the use of Riot Control Agents as method of warfare. They deplore the recent use and stress that states parties should not resort to these agents for military use. Iran says this stems not from legal perspective but from their personal experience when Iraq used CWs against them and it has made them even more resolute in opposing all WMDs including CWs. Iran asserts that the international response to Saddam Hussein sent the signal that grave violations of a treaty would be tolerated if it served the interests of world powers. They want to establish international CW victims funding, and would like the OPCW to be involved.
Next Iran addressed the CWC agreement to provide free trade for peaceful use of chemicals within the states parties. However, they argue that some states parties have put extra restrictions on trade that are discriminatory and arbitrary. These export control regimes need to be dropped to be in line with Article XI. The states parties need to have a discussion on this article to ensure its full implementation. Iran has prepared a detailed proposal on Article XI and hope that serious negotiations will occur based on it.
Iran also brought up the concern that only some state parties have incorporated national implementing legislation. They also noted over-representation of certain developed nations in the OPCW Technical Secretariat.
RIchard Guthrie’s latest report “The Opening of the Conference: Procedures and statements” is up on the CBW Events site. Everyone is beginning to gather now in the Forum and the days events should begin shortly.
First up should be the U.S. statement.
Eric Javits, representative of the U.S. began the day by addressing the conference. He affirmed U.S. commitment to the CWC and welcomed the new chariman. He also thanked Ambassador Donald Mahley for his work on the CWC over the past years and congratulated him on his retirement. Javits then read a short message from Mahley, which highlighted some of events Mahley participated in to during the negotiation and implementation of the CWC. Mahley congratulated the CWC as what he believes to be the last great mutlilateral arms control agreement, and a lean organisation that has maintained its focus on the mission to rid the world of CWs.
Javits continued by welcoming the Congo as the newest member, and urged the remaining nations to ratify or accede as soon as possible. This is a good opportunity to reaffirm the CWC and to follow through on compliance concerns. Javits asserted that debates taht have been going on in the past few months over the relative improtance on various conditions of the CWC miss the point. The CWC is series of interlocking agreements so success in one area of the convention depends on success of the others. WE should not be discussing the relative importance of each part, but how to move the whole interlocking CWC forward. Javits agreed that destruction is fundamental and that the possessor states have special responsibility to secure and destroy their CWs, though it has not been as rapid as anyone would wish. The U.S. has demonstrated resolve and commitment to destroy their CWs as quickly as possible. He understands concerns over delays, and it is right that RevCon give this issue serious consideration, but U.S. commitment is clear and have used their resources not only to destroy their own stockpiles, but also to help others.
Javits also requested that the DG study how changes in chemical industry affect the indicators of CW production so that verification can remain accurate and effictive. He also called for an increase in inspections of OCPFs, but only for those which are relavent – need to include exemptions to focus on facilites that are relavent. The U.S. looks forward to ease of report submission to the OPCW and the ability to do so electronically. Terrorists are one of the challenges of the current day, and the CWC has provisions to detect military use, but not of individual efforts. Javits insists that national implementation legislation must be passed in every contry to reduce this.
Javits also proposed that annual 2 day meeting be lengthened so that there will be more discussion and sharing of experience on specific CWC related issues. The U.S. would like to see increased partnership with industry and the SAB supproted and stronger by to changing the way that topics are submitted and an increased budget for more meetings and to sponsor smaller working groups. He also agrees that OPCW begin planing for a workload shift as destruction of CWs winds down. They will also need shift of expertise of inspectors for this. In conculsion, Javits stated that the states use their time here wisely to address topics of greatest improtance. He pledged commitment to work cloesly with everyone here to make this a productive conference.