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H.E. Ambassador ZHANG Jun Delivered a Statement in the General Debate of the 66th session of the Executive Council of the OPCW

The Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (hereafter referred as “the OPCW”) opened its 66th session on 4th October 2011 in The Hague of the Netherlands, with the attendance of all its 41 Council Member States. H.E. Ambassador ZHANG Jun, the Permanent Representative of China to the OPCW and head of the Chinese delegation, attended the meeting and delivered a statement in the general debate of the Council and elaborated Chinese positions on key issues related to destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles, destruction of abandoned chemical weapons by Japan in China, future development of the OPCW and the OPCW Program and Budget for 2012.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that the complete destruction of chemical weapons within the final extended deadline as set forth in the Chemical Weapons Convention constitutes its core object and purpose. It is thus the paramount obligation under the Convention. It also represents a major objective for the multilateral arms control and disarmament process towards the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, with significant bearing on the greater cause of international peace and security. Confronted with the severe challenge posed by the probable failure of certain Possessor States to meet this deadline, the OPCW has the obligation and responsibility to seek within the framework of the Convention a solution by consensus and through an open, transparent and democratic process, a solution that will both help preserve the credibility and integrity of the legal framework for international disarmament and arms control, and contribute to the sustainable development of the OPCW, so as to minimise the negative impact of failure to meet the final extended deadline.

Ambassador Zhang stressed that for over 60 years, the large quantities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China, increasingly corroded and leaky, have posed a grave and real threat to the people in the affected areas in China in terms of the safety of their life and the environment. Pursuant to the Convention, 29 April 2012 is the final extended deadline for the completion of the destruction of Japanese ACWs, which has also been reaffirmed by the decision of the Executive Council in 2006. As Japan has formally admitted that it is unable to complete destruction within the established deadline, China is seriously concerned with this failure, and urges Japan to take constructive and pragmatic attitude, show good faith for cooperation, and timely enter into negotiations with China on proper arrangements beyond the missed deadline, with a view to reaching an early solution that conforms to the provisions of the Convention, reflects the urgency of the destruction, ensures feasibility, and recognizes the common responsibility of the OPCW and States Parties concerned.

Ambassador Zhang articulated that discussion on the future development of the OPCW is in essence an effort to identify future priority areas and tasks for the implementation of the Convention, which involves many political, legal and technical issues as well as the common interests of all States Parties. The relevant decision-making process should be open, transparent and democratic, featuring an orderly and gradual approach. Decisions in this regard should conform to the object and purpose of the Convention, facilitate the long-term healthy development of the OPCW, and advance the interests of States Parties. Ambassador Zhang further emphasized that before the completion of total destruction, conditions are not ripe for the OPCW to start any transition. The OPCW should continue the core task of destruction, while at the same time advancing in a balanced way tasks in other key priority areas such as industry verification and international cooperation. Meanwhile, as the Programme and Budget of the OPCW for 2012 has an important bearing on the future direction of implementation of the Convention, China maintains that robust and effective verification of destruction should continue to be ensured in the next year’s Programme and Budget, with a proper planning of work and reasonable distribution of the resources in key priority areas such as industry verification and international cooperation.

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