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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the OPCW At the 67th Session of the Executive Council

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to welcome you back to the Chair of the Council. The Chinese delegation will cooperate closely with you and other delegations to contribute to the successful conclusion of our deliberation of all the agenda items of this session.

China appreciates the comprehensive report by H.E. the Director-General Üzümcü, and would like to associate itself with the statement by Ambassador of Cuba on behalf of the NAM States Parties and China. Now, please allow me to set forth China’s positions in connection with the agenda items.

Firstly, to complete the destruction of CW stockpiles in the shortest time possible is the major challenge and priority task facing the OPCW at present and for some time to come. The probability that the final extended deadline for their destruction cannot be met will not only bear on the object and purpose of the Convention, but also have a significant and profound impact on the global arms control and disarmament process. With joint efforts by all parties concerned, a decision on this issue was adopted by the 16th session of the Conference. This does not mean, however, that issues relating to meeting the final extended deadline have been closed. China urges the possessor States in question to honour their obligations under the Convention in good faith, implement the decision of the Conference conscientiously, and complete destruction as soon as possible. China calls on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to continue close follow-up of the situation and to take effective steps to enhance its effective monitoring of the destruction process beyond the final extended deadline, in order to prevent further delay of the process. The Technical Secretariat should continue to give top priority to this key area in terms of staffing and resource allocation. At the same time, the Organisation is requested to extend full cooperation fully with the State Party concerned to seek appropriate solution to issues relating to the newly discovered chemical weapons.

Secondly, China expresses its serious concern that the final deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China will not be fully met. The complete and thorough destruction of Japanese ACWs in the shortest time possible has a direct bearing on the object and purpose of the Convention and its credibility. More than six decades have elapsed, but large amounts of Japanese ACWs still pose a realistic and direct threat to the safety of the life and property of Chinese people and to their environment, as these weapons continue to cause casualties from time to time. As is prescribed by the Convention, 29 April 2012 is the final deadline for the completion of the destruction of Japanese ACWs. This deadline has also been confirmed by the 2006 Council decision on the extension of the deadline for completing the destruction of Japanese ACWs (EC-46/DEC.4). Regrettably, however, Japan, as the Abandoning State Party with the primary obligations for destruction, has formally recognised that it will not be able to complete the destruction by this deadline. As a consequence, the relevant provision of the Convention and decision of the Council cannot be honoured and enforced effectively, while for an even longer period of time, China will continue to face the threat of chemical weapons and suffer human casualties and environmental pollution. As a victim of chemical weapons, China is seriously concerned and worried about the possible negative impact of this development.

Nevertheless, the Chinese Government is keen to continue to work with a firm determination and unwavering commitment for an early elimination of all Japanese ACWs. Accordingly, the Chinese side has taken a pragmatic, cooperative and flexible approach in a series of intense consultations with the Japanese side in the two capitals and The Hague. Thanks to the joint efforts by both sides, agreement has been reached on a draft Council decision on the deadline for the destruction of Japanese ACWs and on a plan for destruction beyond that deadline that will be annexed to the draft decision. The draft decision affirms that the destruction of Japanese ACWs shall continue in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, timeframes are established for completing the destruction, and a review mechanism of the OPCW policy-making organs is envisaged for the destruction process beyond the said deadline. The draft will be submitted to this session of the Council for consideration and adoption.

China urges Japan to truly honour its obligations under the Convention as the Abandoning State Party by increasing inputs and making all efforts to accelerate the destruction process, with a view to completing destruction in the shortest time possible. China will as always provide appropriate cooperation. At the same time, China appeals for and welcomes the active and constructive role by other States Parties and the Secretariat in facilitating and monitoring the destruction process.

Thirdly, the issue of the future development of the OPCW is crucial to the full and effective implementation of the Convention and its credibility, and is closely linked to the interests of all States Parties. Discussions on this issue should be carried out on the basis of the Convention and from a long-term perspective, and should proceed step by step in a structured manner. China commends the efforts made by the Director-General and his independent advisory panel in the deliberation of the future orientation of the OPCW. China believes that for a considerable period of time to come, as large amounts of CW stockpiles, ACWs and OCWs remain to be destroyed, the OPCW should continue to take CW disarmament as its priority task, while advancing in parallel and in a balanced manner its work in other key areas, such as industry verification, international cooperation, and protection against chemical weapons. On the other hand, the future development of the OPCW also has multi-faceted implications, such as resource allocation, restructuring of posts, and optimisation of functions. As such, deliberations need to be full and extensive, and decision-making measured and cautious. With this in mind and when appropriate, an open-ended working group should be established in the principle of openness and transparency. It should work on the basis of active and wide participation from all States Parties and bring about a package solution, to be submitted to the policy-making organs of the OPCW for a consensus decision.

Before I conclude, I wish to take this opportunity to announce that in order to promote the full implementation of Article X of the Convention and to help States Parties develop and improve their capacity in CW protection, China and the Secretariat will jointly host the third advanced course on assistance and protection against chemical weapons in Beijing from 14 to 18 May this year. States Parties are invited to participate.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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