Chemical Weapons Ban Took a Century to Enact, But ‘Living Example’ of Success in Field, First Committee Told, Taking Up Weapons of Mass Destruction Debate

16 October 2009
GA/DIS/3393

Chemical Weapons Ban Took a Century to Enact, But ‘Living Example’ of Success in Field, First Committee Told, Taking Up Weapons of Mass Destruction Debate

16 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3393
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

12th Meeting (PM)

Chemical Weapons Ban Took a Century to Enact, But ‘Living Example’ of Success

in Field, First Committee Told, Taking Up Weapons of Mass Destruction Debate

Still, Rapid Evolution of Chemical Industry Requires Constant Focus; Black

Market Activity Can Circumnavigate Biological Weapons Convention, Committee Hears

The strides made to ban chemical weapons was a “living example” of success when global efforts joined forces with clear goals, constructive dialogue, good will and a spirit of consensus, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today during its thematic debate on weapons of mass destruction.

The Committee also heard the introduction of a draft resolution on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).

“The ban on chemical weapons took a century in its making,” said Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  “It is now a reality”, and there was no reason to believe that similar attainments in other areas were beyond reach.  “We move ever closer to the vision of a world free from an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under the conditions of international verification,” he said.

That progress came from several factors, including a larger membership, with 188 States parties, and the fact that more than 50 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles had already been destroyed 12 years after the Convention’s entry into force, he explained.  What was the reason behind the progress?  Any comprehensive prohibition against any class of weapons needed an effective non-proliferation regime and a well-honed and efficient industry inspection regime to promote confidence among States parties, he said, adding that he would lend his experience to help with implementation plans for resolution 1540 (2004).

However, he acknowledged, there were still 5,576 chemical facilities that were liable to be inspected, for which he advocated an increase in the number of inspections.  Additionally, reinforcing the verification regime was necessary for maintaining confidence in the non-proliferation provisions of the Convention.  The rapid evolution of the chemical industry required a continued focus, as new products and developments gave rise to potential harm without proper supervision.  Then too, the United States and the Russian Federation, both major possessors, had onerous responsibilities vis-à-vis destruction of their chemical weapons stocks. 

Taken together, the OPCW Executive Council was considering a proposal that would require the Council Chairman to engage in information consultations with all interested delegations on the feasibility of revised deadlines, and to report to the next Council session, he said. 

Delegates heralded successes under that Convention, with Sweden’s speaker, on behalf of the European Union, calling that first internationally-verifiable treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, “a major multilateral achievement”.  Destruction of chemical weapons remained the key goal, and he commended possessor States’ efforts and successes.  But destruction must be accompanied by prevention of the future development of new chemical weapons.  He also expressed the Union’s concern over the risks of the proliferation of missiles, which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction, including ballistic missiles of great range and sophisticated technologies. 

Several speakers sought stepped up efforts to comply with the 2012 deadline for destruction of stockpiles.  Switzerland’s representative said that was paramount, not only for the treaty’s credibility, but also for global security.  He noted that his country had been providing financial support to the Russian and Albanian authorities to assist them with the destruction of their chemical weapons stockpiles, within the agreed time frame.

Similarly, Norway’s representative said it was imperative that existing stocks of chemical weapons be destroyed within agreed time limits, and that countries do their utmost to meet those deadlines.  There was also a need to further refine the Convention’s verification and inspection mechanism, and challenge inspections should be used when needed.  He felt that the Chemical Weapons Convention had proved to be a successful multilateral tool, but if the international community wanted to achieve a world free of chemical weapons, then it must continue working to universalize that instrument. 

On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s representative, stressing that the implementation of the Convention would bolster regional and international peace and security, said that he was concerned that 47 per cent of chemical weapons stockpiles remained to be destroyed.  He called upon possessor States to meet their deadlines.  He noted with concern that one major possessor State party had indicated that it would not comply with that deadline.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country had always favoured full compliance with all of the Convention’s provisions, including the timetable for weapons destruction.  Specific steps had been taken, as Russia was continuing to destroy those weapons and to construct new facilities to further that work.  He pointed out that the brunt of the financial burden for the destruction was met by Russia, and in one year alone, costs were €1 billion. Concerned that terrorist use of chemical weapons was a threat, he held that a world free of those weapons was the only solution. 

Turning to the Convention on Biological Weapons he said that, against a backdrop of scientific achievements, it was more significant than ever.  Counteracting the effects of the spread of infectious diseases must be addressed within the Convention’s framework.  Russia was taking steps to combat the spread of such diseases, which could be considered a confidence-building measure.  Working out a verification system for the Convention was needed, and Russia was working towards that goal. 

Australia was working with its neighbours to build regional capacity to counter bioterrorism and to advance biosafety, its speaker said.  In that context, it had committed $100 million to combat the threats of pandemics and emerging infectious diseases in the region.  Noting that black market activity could circumnavigate the restrictions of the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and export control regimes, he welcomed efforts to strengthen international curbs on illicit brokering activities.

Statements in the thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction were made by the representatives of Canada, Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Turkey, Cuba, Venezuela, United States, Iran and Republic of Korea.

The representative of Poland introduced the draft resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Hungary’s representative introduced the text on the Biological Weapons Convention.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 October to begin its thematic debate on the topics of outer space (disarmament aspects) and of conventional weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and to hear the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions.

Statements

ROGELIO PFIRTER, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), hailed the renewed hope for creating a more enduring basis for international peace and security.  He said the citation of the Nobel Committee in awarding this year’s Peace Prize to the prime architect of the current renewal, United States President Barack Obama, summed up the international community’s aspirations in concerting its efforts through the United Nations and other international institutions to create global responses in the area of arms control and disarmament challenges.  The organization’s work had been organized and executed, and the sustained culture of constructive engagement, and consensus by States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) had ensured steady progress towards eliminating chemical weapons and ensuring their non-proliferation.

“We move ever closer to the vision of a world free from an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under the conditions of international verification,” he said.  That progress came from several factors, including larger membership, with 188 States parties.  Iraq’s acceptance of the Chemical Weapons Convention had been a “clean break” from the tragic legacy of a regime that had used chemical weapons.  There was no parallel in any legal instrument dealing with weapons of mass destruction to have attracted such wide adherence in a relatively short time period. 

Recently, he said, more than 50 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed.  In addition, India had fulfilled its obligation, and three possessor States had completed the destruction of their chemical weapons.  That proved that the Convention’s goal of chemical weapons destruction by April 2012 was attainable.

However, the United States and the Russian Federation, both major possessors, had onerous responsibilities, he continued.  The Russian Federation, which was required to destroy 45 per cent of its declared stockpiles, by 31 December, had destroyed 16,024 metric tons of its Category I chemical weapons, or 40.1 per cent of its declared aggregate amount.  Chemical weapons destruction was ongoing at three facilities.  The United States continued to move closer to the goal of complete destruction, and had currently destroyed 18,200 metric tons, or 65.54 per cent of its chemical weapons.  Four facilities were operating, and the Government had declared that it had reached a milestone of 2 million chemical agent-filled munitions destroyed, in compliance with the Convention.  Both States had shown transparency and openness, given the enormity of the task and the fast approaching deadlines.

In that light, he said, the OPWC Executive Council was considering a proposal that would require the Council Chairman to engage in information consultations with all interested delegations on the feasibility of revised deadlines, and to report to the next Council session.  The constructive spirit of cooperation and accommodation of the OPCW’s multilateral experience had guaranteed the Convention’s effectiveness and success.  Libya had submitted a request regarding a deadline extension for Category I chemical weapons destruction, outlining obstacles it encountered.  The matter was before the Executive Council.

Regarding chemical weapons abandoned by Japan and China, the secretariat was working with both States on a draft action plan and applauded both for their pragmatic approach.

He said that any comprehensive prohibition against any class of weapons presupposes an effective non-proliferation regime as a necessary complement to disarmament and a safeguard against reversion.  The existence of a well-honed and efficient industry inspection regime was fundamental to the non-proliferation goals of the Convention and to promoting confidence among States parties that chemical industry only engaged in legitimate and peaceful activities.  Since the Convention came into force in 1997, the organization had conducted 3,812 inspections in 81 States parties.  However, there were still 5,576 chemical facilities that were liable to be inspected.  The number of inspections should be increased.  In addition, reinforcing the verification regime was necessary for maintaining confidence in the non-proliferation provisions of the Convention.  The rapid evolution of the chemical industry required a continued focus, as new products and developments gave rise to potential harm without proper supervision.

Deterrence against possible acquisition, development and misuse of toxic chemicals should be firmly established within the national laws of Member States, he urged.  The First Review of the Conference on the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2003 had adopted an action plan to boost effective national implementation of the Convention globally, but only 46 per cent of States parties had enacted legislation.  He commended the European Union’s support for joint actions and programmes to implement the Convention worldwide.  But considerable ground had to be covered. 

He was pleased to be able to share the organization’s experiences with the United Nations to promote the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Articles of the Convention covering international cooperation and assistance were of vital importance, especially to Member States with economies that were developing or in transition.  The peaceful application of chemistry and the pursuit of legitimate industry-related activities was a major focus of the organization’s programmes.

While coming close, the Convention had not attained full universality, he said.  The shared goal of a world free of chemical weapons had motivated almost every nation to accept the obligations enshrined in the Convention.  He appealed to States that had not yet joined the Convention to do so without further delay.  Israel, a signatory State, had maintained constructive dialogue, Egypt’s positive attitude was appreciated, and he would continue efforts with remaining non-members, such as Angola, Somalia, Syria and Myanmar. 

He said The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been the only country that had shunned the organization’s approaches.  He hoped the issue of chemical weapons would receive due attention, as the international community sought to resolve the denuclearization problem of the Korean peninsula.

The OPCW’s progress in fulfilling its mandate was a “living example” of the success of disarmament and non-proliferation, when efforts were joined on the basis of clear goals, constructive dialogue, good will and a spirit of consensus.  “The ban on chemical weapons took a century in its making,” he said.  “It is now a reality”, and there was no reason to believe that similar attainments in other areas were beyond reach.

MAGNUS HELLGREN (Sweden), on behalf of the European Union, said that enhancing international cooperation was urgently needed to fight the scourges of chemical and biological weapons, and to prevent those weapons from landing in the hands of terrorists.  Full compliance with all provisions of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention), the Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1925 Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (Geneva Protocol) were of critical importance, and the European Union called for full universalization of those instruments.  It also called on all Member States to consider withdrawing any reservations made upon accession to the 1925 Protocol.

He said that the Union would assist States requesting cooperation in implementing those instruments and, in that spirit, had adopted a new Joint Action in support of the implementation and universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention.  The Union also called on all States parties to that treaty to submit their annual data on confidence-building measures.  However, much needed to be done to ensure full participation by all States parties and further consideration should be given to improving confidence-building measures.

The Chemical Weapons Convention, the first internationally-verifiable treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, had been a major multilateral achievement, he said.  Today, no more than seven United Nations Member States had yet to become party to the Convention, including two signatories.  He urged those States to join in the common goal of ridding the world of those weapons.  Destruction of chemical weapons remained the key goal, and he commended possessor States’ efforts and successes.  But destruction must be accompanied by prevention of the future development of new chemical weapons.  Provisions on industry verification, national implementation and challenge inspections were vital to pursuing non-proliferation goals of the Convention. 

“The implementation of all articles of the Convention can prevent toxic chemicals from falling into the hands of terrorists,” he said.  “This applies in particular to measures that lead to enhanced national implementation.”  He called on concerned States to ensure that the necessary legislation and infrastructure were in place.  The Union contributed to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s objectives through financial support, joint actions and other activities. 

He also expressed support for the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), and urged all States to comply with it and to fully implement the text’s legally binding obligations.  International legal provisions were essential, but not enough.  They must be effectively implemented.  The Union welcomed the development of new innovative international tools against proliferation, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative.

Concerned over the risks of the proliferation of missiles, which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction, including ballistic missiles of great range and sophisticated technologies, he said that the tests, including by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, only deepened his concern.  The Hague Code of Conduct, with the Missile Technology Control Regime, was the best existing tool to deal with the problem.  He commended the positive statement made regarding the full implementation of The Hague Code of Conduct at the G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy this year, as well as the agreements between United States President Obama and Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev, regarding implementation of the important goal of enhanced data sharing on ballistic missile launches, through the creation of a joint data collection centre in Moscow.  He reiterated the Union’s proposal for the start of consultations on a multilateral treaty banning short- and intermediate-range ground-to-ground missiles.

MARIUS GRINIUS (Canada), speaking as Chairman of the 2009 Meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention, reported on the activities of the States parties to the Convention and on the progress made since last year in implementing decisions and recommendations of the 2006 Sixth Review Conference.  The meeting of experts, held from 24 to 28 August, had been great success, with some 500 participants from more than 200 countries.  The meeting had amassed a great deal of information, and the presentations, statements and working papers produced for it had been available on the website of the Biological Weapons Convention.  That had helped to ensure that those experts who had been unable to travel to the meeting were still able to benefit from the efforts. 

He said that four common themes had run through many of the presentations and working papers.  The first was the need for sustainability.  Participants had noted that if enduring capacity was to be built, more than just resources and equipment were needed.  There was also a need for an integrated approach to human, animal and plant diseases, pooling information and resources and coordinating efforts and institutions.  Coordination of assistance, cooperation and capacity building activities was also crucial, nationally, regionally and internationally.  A further emerging theme had been the benefits of identifying specific national and regional needs and challenges to building capacity towards a tailored response.

His attention was now firmly fixed on the Meeting of States Parties scheduled for 7-11 December, where efforts needed to be consolidated and translated into real returns, he said.  A letter had been sent to States parties conveying a synthesis paper, which consolidated the proposals and ideas expressed at the meeting of experts as a useful resource to draw upon in their preparations.

Progress was being made in enhancing participation in the confidence-building measures, he said, adding that since the Sixth Review Conference, it had been possible to maintain the participation rate at 60 States per year.  While that was an improvement over prior years, the levels of participation should be higher.  Several initiatives had been undertaken, which might increase that number.  Thanks to the European Union Joint Action in support of the Convention, there was currently under development a guide to help States participate in the confidence-building measures regime, and resources were available to provide some in-country assistance for the completion of a country’s first “CBM” report.

He expressed concern that efforts to expand the treaty’s membership appeared to have lost momentum.  While other weapons of mass destruction treaty regimes were approaching universality, the Biological Weapons Convention lagged behind.  Four States joined in 2007, and a further four in 2008.  So far this year, there had been no new additions.  Although outreach efforts continued, and some States had reported positive steps towards ratification or accession, he was not particularly hopeful that membership would expand any further this year.

PAUL NEVILLE ( Australia) said that his country was committed to a world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as those caused unconscionable casualties.  Achieving that demanded steadfast commitment to strengthening the global treaties addressing weapons of mass destruction, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.  The country welcomed the non-proliferation commitments and efforts made to address those risks.  That cooperation had delivered measurable progress.

He said that, in 1985, Australia had convened a meeting of 15 States to consider how to prevent the diversion of otherwise legitimate trade in chemicals and equipment to the production of chemical weapons.  That meeting was in response to a United Nations special investigatory commission on the Iran-Iraq war, which had found that Iraq had used chemical weapons against Iran.  The States involved in that 1985 meeting had agreed to enhance cooperation and harmonize their respective licensing measures and export controls to ensure that their domestic chemical industries were not inadvertently helping other States to develop chemical weapons.  The Australia Group, as it was called, had since expanded to 40 States and the European Commission.  Since its inception, the Group had proved to be an important instrument in ongoing international efforts to impede the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. The international community had also strengthened its efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons once and for all.

Australia was encouraged by the continuing progress in the destruction of chemical weapons, which had resulted in the verified elimination of more than one‑third of declared stockpiles, he said.  Three former possessor States had completed destruction of all their chemical weapons.  The other four States should make every effort to meet their extended deadlines for destruction.  It was now vital for members of the Chemical Weapons Convention to look to the future to ensure that the Convention adapted to developments in science and technology.

He added that Australia continued to work with its neighbours to build regional capacity to counter bio-terrorism and to advance bio-safety.  In that context, it had committed $100 million to combat the threats of pandemics and emerging infectious diseases in the region.  Noting that black market activity could circumnavigate the restrictions of the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and export control regimes, he welcomed efforts to strengthen international curbs on illicit brokering activities.

KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said that the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were essential instruments in achieving the goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  They significantly contributed to the common security of the international community and had established fundamental norms on disarmament and non-proliferation.  An integral part of the two Conventions was economic and technological development through cooperation in the field of peaceful chemical and biological activities, as set out in article XI of the Chemical Weapons Convention and article X of the Biological Weapons Convention.

He noted that there had been different views on those articles in the past, as there had been perceptions that the non-proliferation regime, in particular Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), had the effect of limiting the developing countries’ access to the benefits stemming from cooperation in chemical and biological sciences.  Those perceptions should be recognized, but Norway believed that all nations would gain from improved non-proliferation efforts at the national level.  Rather than being constrained by the non-proliferation regime, improved national non-proliferation measures could help facilitate the implementation of the articles.

The Chemical Weapons Convention had proved to be a successful multilateral tool, but more effort was needed to ensure that it met its full potential, he said.  If the international community wanted to achieve a world free of chemical weapons, then it must continue working to universalize that instrument.  It was also imperative that existing stocks of chemical weapons be destroyed within agreed time limits, and countries should do their utmost to meet those deadlines.  There was also a need to further refine the Convention’s verification and inspection mechanism, and challenge inspections should be used when needed.  In addition, it must be ensured that the use of non-lethal gases, such as riot control agents, were in conformity with the Convention and did not have unacceptable humanitarian consequences.  Norway recognized that there were different views on that issue, but common ground should be found.

On the Biological Weapons Convention, he said that his country fully supported the implementation of the intersessional programme, adopted at the 2006 Review Conference.  The outcome document of the Oslo workshop in June was a substantial input for the deliberations at the Meeting of States Parties to be held in December.  Norway was pleased with the support provided by the Implementation Support Unit in all its activities.

He emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships and networks across regions.  He was aware of regional divisions that sometimes occurred in the discussions, but past Review Conferences of the Conventions had proved that when countries focused on common ground, important results could be achieved.  That required continued and enhanced cooperation, dialogue and sharing of national experience between developed and developing countries.

MARTIN VIDAL ( Uruguay), on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said he wholly supported the full implementation and universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and called upon those States that had not done so, to accede to the treaty with haste.  He commended Mr. Pfirter and the secretariat, whose work had produced so much, and welcomed the incoming Director-General.

He said that that Convention, only 12 years after its entry into force, was unique in its broad effects.  The application of the Convention and its provisions provided protection, among other things, and did not hinder the technological developments of States.  MERCOSUR members did not possess chemical weapons.  He called upon possessor countries to meet deadlines and destroy their stockpiles.  He reiterated his support for multilateralism in the efforts to destroy those deadly weapons.

JURG STREULI ( Switzerland) noted that the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles was one of the issues on the agenda of the Chemical Weapons Convention and that progress was being made in that domain, but added that the deadline for destruction set in the Convention, and extended by the Conference of States Parties, was approaching.  Accordingly, Switzerland appealed to all States possessing chemical weapons to step up their efforts, in order to meet the extended deadline.  That was paramount, not only for the treaty’s credibility, but also for global security.   Switzerland had been providing financial support to the Russian and Albanian authorities to assist them with the destruction of their chemical weapons stockpiles, within the agreed time frame.

He said that the intersessional process established by the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention proved again this year to be a valuable mechanism, enabling a constructive and worthwhile exchange of views on different aspects of the Convention.  The fact that the Meetings of States Parties had had no mandate to take decisions, however, had limited its scope of action.  Accordingly, Switzerland would welcome the opening of discussions on the adoption of a more comprehensive mandate for such meetings.  The Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, to be held in 2011, represented the next opportunity to strengthen the Convention, as well as the mandate of the annual meetings and that of the Implementation Support Unit.

FEBRIAN RUDDYARD (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for an effectively verifiable Biological Weapons Convention, recognizing that it could be strengthened through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding protocol.  Universal adherence was vital, and he reiterated the call to promote international cooperation for peaceful purposes, including a scientific-technical exchange.

He said that the Movement’s States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention invited all States that had not signed or ratified that treaty to do so, with a view to strengthening its universality.  He stressed that the implementation of that Convention would bolster regional and international peace and security.  He was concerned that 47 per cent of chemical weapons stockpiles remained to be destroyed, and he called upon possessor States to meet their deadlines.  He noted with concern that one major possessor State party had indicated that it would not comply with that deadline.

States parties to the Convention, along with the OPCW, should accord urgent attention to meeting the humanitarian needs of victims of chemical weapons, through the possible establishment of a global support network, he urged.

Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) should not undermine the United Nations Charter, and he cautioned against the continuing practice by the Security Council to use its authority to define the legislative requirements for Member States in implementing its decisions.  He attached high importance to the risk attached to the scenario of the acquisition by non-State actors of mass destruction weapons.  The issue should be addressed by the General Assembly.

IHSAN MUSTAFA YURDAKUL ( Turkey) said that his country supported the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions as important instruments in the creation of a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  It was committed to the universalization of those conventions.  Turkey also supported the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  In that regard, it had hosted two activities this year to promote the universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention in its region.

He reiterated Turkey’s support for the creation of a verifiable zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, without which, it was not possible to provide security in the area.  The presence of mass destruction weapons in the region undermined regional security and stability there.

QUINONES SANCHEZ ( Cuba) said there was a need for all States to fulfil their obligations towards the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  Disarmament, including verification -- and assistance, including international cooperation -- were key pillars of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Implementing the Convention was the goal, and it was crucial that possessor States abided by existing deadlines.  The OPCW played an important role in promoting economic and technological progress among States parties, especially developing countries, and he called for full implementation of article XI.  Also critical was the elimination of discriminatory practices in that regard.

He said that the Convention on Biological Weapons should achieve universalization.  The only way to strengthen and improve the Convention was through the adoption of a legally binding protocol regarding the production and use of those weapons.  Cuba shared the concern that terrorist groups could acquire those weapons.  Urgent progress must be made in the disarmament field on that topic.  Plurilateral activities, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, weakened global multilateral efforts.  Multilateralism was the correct path.

Cuba renewed its commitment to the objective of the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, and would do its utmost to strengthen the role of the United Nations in that regard.

LISETH ANCIDEY ( Venezuela) said that her country had reaffirmed that the elimination of chemical and biological weapons was a priority.  It supported the complete elimination of all forms of weapons of mass destruction, under strict international control.  The elimination of those weapons was the only guarantee that they would not fall into hands of terrorists.

She said that Venezuela, as State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, supported full transparency in the implementation of the Convention, as well as its universality.  The country had vigorously fulfilled its commitments and obligations derived from its membership in the Convention, and its chemical activities were for purely peaceful purposes.  Moreover, those activities were subjected to the verification of the relevant international bodies, namely the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the OPCW.  Venezuela had also established national bodies for the treaty’s implementation.

Venezuela was also a party to the Biological Weapons Convention and supported the programme for its full implementation, she said.  It was holding consultations to establish a national body for its implementation and had drafted a code of bio-security to govern the conduct of scientists and researchers working in that field.

She added that Venezuela was deeply concerned that some States possessing chemical weapons could not meet the 2012 deadline to destroy them.  Those States should set the proper examples.  Her country rejected any initiative that sought to disregard or delegitimize previous agreements negotiated in multilateral forums.  In that regard, the Security Council was not the best body to lead efforts for the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, since it could not guarantee an appropriate response, particularly when nuclear weapons played an important role in the military doctrines of its permanent members.

GAROLD LARSON ( United States) said that the steady new entry of States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention had been encouraging.  As the technology and chemical industry continued to advance and evolve, it was essential, as recognized by the Second Review Conference, that verification adapt and keep pace with the changes.  The United States was committed to both the Conventions on Chemical and Biological Weapons.

He said that the Obama Administration took the biological weapons threat very seriously and strongly supported the Biological Weapons Convention as a vital means of addressing it, regardless of whether it came from States or non-State actors.  The meeting of experts had illustrated the value of the Biological Weapons Convention as a forum, addressing real-world issues related to developing international disease surveillance and response capabilities.

The United States had taken several measures to assist and partner with other nations to build disease surveillance and response capabilities, as had other States, he said.  There was an interconnection between public health and international security that was increasingly clear to all, and would be an important focus of future work on the Biological Weapons Convention’s agenda.

ANDREY MALOV ( Russian Federation) said that the Chemical Weapons Convention was one of the most effective multilateral instruments, partly because of its verification system.  Russia had always favoured full compliance with all of the Convention’s provisions, including the timetable for weapons destruction.  Specific steps had been taken, as Russia was continuing to destroy those weapons and to construct new facilities to further that work.  He pointed out that the brunt of the financial burden for the destruction of those weapons was met by Russia, and in one year alone, costs were €1 billion.

He said that terrorist use of chemical weapons was a threat.  A world free of those weapons was the only solution.  The Chemical Weapons Convention contained an anti-terrorist potential.  However, countering chemical terrorism required a different set of instruments than those which existed in the Convention.  The sources of terrorist threats were not countries, but groups not bound by any international instruments.  One of the major priorities was the universality of the Convention and ensuring implementation of national legislation on those issues.  He urged States not party to the Convention to join and adhere to it.

Against a backdrop of scientific achievements, the Convention on Biological Weapons was more significant than ever, he said.  Counteracting the effects of the spread of infectious diseases must be addressed within the Convention’s framework.  Russia was taking steps to combat the spread of such diseases, which could be considered a confidence-building measure.  He noted with regret that not all States parties to the Convention were submitting, as Russia was, information on confidence-building measures in that regard.  Working out a verification system for the Convention was needed, and Russia was working towards that goal.  While there had been progress towards the treaty’s universalization, not one State had acceded to it this year.  He called on all States to accede as quickly as possible.  For its part, Russia intended to participate actively with all interested parties on biological and chemical weapons issues and to support the relevant resolutions of the First Committee.

REZA NAJAFI ( Iran) said that the use of inhumane chemical weapons had a long, dark history.  The worst case had been the cruel chemical attack launched by the regime of Saddam Hussein against Iranians and the people of Halabche in Iraq.  No nation had suffered more from chemical weapons than the Iranian people.  With its tens of thousands of victims, his country had been witnessing the sufferings of those innocent people and had had to shoulder the burden of alleviating their painful plight single-handedly.  That bitter experience was a determining factor in Iran’s national security strategy to renounce any type of weapons of mass destruction and its unshakable resolve to pursue the realization of the goal of a world free of those weapons.

He said that Iran had played a significant role in the course of negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention and successfully implemented its obligations under it.  It cooperated fully with the OPCW, demonstrating its accountability to the treaty’s purpose to the international community.  The country expected States parties, in particular possessors, to remain accountable with regard to their obligations and to destroy their existing chemical weapons, within the deadline provided by the Convention.

The chemical weapons threat was “dangerously real”, he went on.  To rid the world of that threat and bring about the full purpose and object of the Convention, that instrument’s universality must be ensured.  Regrettably, the situation of adherence in the Middle East region was not promising, owing to the refusal of one possessor of weapons of mass destruction to submit itself to any type of international monitoring.  That country remained the only obstacle to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the region.  As long as that regime continued to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in its secret facilities, with impunity, there was no prospect for the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention in that region.

He added that it was necessary to bring to justice the culprits who supported the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein’s regime against Iranians and Iraqis.  Several countries, including European Union member States, had assisted that regime to develop chemical weapons and provided it with materials and precursors.  Some had supported its weapons of mass destruction programme financially and through banking systems.  Those countries were responsible for killing and disabling tens of thousands of innocent people and should take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as to compensate for the harm and casualties that resulted from their irresponsible actions.  The OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention States parties should address that issue seriously and responsibly.

GABOR HORVATH ( Hungary) introduced a draft resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/64/L.15).  He said that due to the fact that the series of meetings in the framework of the 2007-2010 intersessional process was ongoing, the draft of the traditional General Assembly resolution only contained technical updates and modifications.  With the accession of Cook Islands to the Convention, the number of States parties had increased.  The draft had also been modified to reflect that the intersessional process, in its third year, was well under way.  The other elements of the main draft remained unchanged.  Hungary wished to remain the sole sponsor.  He hoped that Member States would support the text.

ZDZISLAW RAPACKI ( Poland) introduced a draft resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, saying that the draft text urged support for all the four pillars of the Convention (document A/C.1/64/L.35). He appealed to Member States to adopt the draft resolution by consensus, as had been done every year, as it expressed the unequivocal support of the United Nations for the elimination of chemical weapons.  The text was well-balanced.  Poland wished to remain its sole sponsor.

YOUN JONG KWON ( Republic of Korea) said that it was noteworthy that the Chemical Weapons Convention was nearing the achievement of complete universality, with 188 States parties.  The country welcomed the recent accession of Iraq to the Convention and called on the countries remaining outside the Convention to join it, sooner rather than later, as reiterated at the Second Review Conference held in 2008.  Acknowledging the achievements made to date, including the complete destruction of chemical weapons by some possessor States, he called on other possessor States to live up to their obligations under the Convention, within the established time frame.  The country stressed the need for all States parties to step up towards the goal of a chemical weapons-free world.  It remained fully committed to the full implementation of the Convention and continued cooperation with States parties.

He said that with advances in biotechnology, as well as its widespread availability, the threat posed by biological weapons was unique and required innovative and multifaceted solutions.  In that regard, the intersessional work programme set at the Sixth Review Conference in 2006 was pertinent and closely linked to the challenges posed by biological weapons.  The Republic of Korea was also of the view that bioterrorism was an issue that warranted the watchful attention of the international community.

The Republic of Korea, since its accession to the Biological Weapons Convention in 1987, had fully implemented that Convention, with the enactment of effective legislation and the establishment of a comprehensive national regulatory regime, he continued.  During the last meeting of experts, the country had submitted a working paper titled “Activities and Views on International Cooperation and Assistance Promoting Capacity-Building in the Field of Infectious Diseases”.  That paper summarized some of the recent efforts made by the Government to assist developing countries in the field of infectious diseases.  It also highlighted some of the necessary actions that the international community could take to improve the international health system for infectious disease management.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.