by Mr Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of
the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
to the Fourth National Dialogue Forum
Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention:
Status and Perspectives as of Year End 2002
Delivered by Director for External Relations of the OPCW Mr.
11 November 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to address you today, and to deliver the following statement on behalf of the Director-General of the OPCW, Mr Rogelio Pfirter.
I welcome wholeheartedly the Fourth National Dialogue Forum on the Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Russian Federation.
Green Cross Russia, the leading force in organizing this forum, has contributed a lot to the successful completion of the ratification process of the Chemical Weapons Convention by the Russian Federation five years ago. Green Cross is also proving instrumental in promoting the implementation of the Convention in the Russian Federation, including, in particular, chemical weapons destruction in an environmentally safe and responsible way.
Five years ago, on 5 November 1997, the Russian Federation took the historic step of ratifying the CWC. It thus assumed its obligations under the Convention, including to declare and destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles and to destroy, or convert to purposes not prohibited under the Convention, all the CW production facilities.
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an important instrument in the field of international security, disarmament, and non-proliferation, with its ultimate goal of ridding the world of chemical weapons. And this Forum is being held at a crucial moment, when the world faces new and increased security threats. The Convention also has an important dimension in this regard. The full and effective implementation of the Convention will play an important role in helping to prevent this category of weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and terrorist groups.
The Forum will consider the current status and perspectives in the implementation of the Convention in the Russian Federation at the end of the year 2002. Indeed, it is time to take stock of developments. We are looking back at what has been done. Importantly, we must also look forward to what remains to be done.
The participation of the Russian Federation in the activities of the OPCW has been marked by considerable success in a number of respects. In the last couple of years, positive changes have taken place in the approach to implementation, with a business-like manner, which is proving to be of great value. In this regard, we have seen the development of excellent working relations with the Russian State Commission on Chemical Weapons Disarmament, headed by Mr Kirienko, with the Russian Munitions Agency headed by Mr Pak, and with the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the OPCW in The Hague, headed by Ambassador Khodakov. I praise them all for their personal and important contribution.
Verification activities in Russia are proceeding in a satisfactory manner, in cooperation with the Russian Munitions Agency as the National Authority, which is kept fully informed about the results of each inspection in the Russian Federation. We are also looking forward to develop, together with the Russian Federation and other possessor states, more cost-effective approaches to inspections, particularly at chemical weapons destruction facilities.
On conversion requests for former CW production facilities, it is extremely significant to note that the OPCW’s policy-making bodies have now approved all such requests, presented by Russia. I would like to congratulate the Russian Federation on this important achievement. Challenges remain, to finalize the conversion of these facilities in accordance with the Convention, and to do everything to ensure this occurs in the limited time remaining.
But it is the destruction of CW stocks that presents the biggest challenges. There have been positive signs along the way. The Russian stockpiles of Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons have all been destroyed, on or before the time limits set by the Convention.
I also note with appreciation the considerable increase in the Russian Federation’s own funding of its CW destruction programme in the past couple of years. Destruction is to be carried out in accordance with the Convention, and under strict environmental norms.
The OPCW continues to encourage its Member States, which are in a position to do so, to do more in relation to the assistance they provide for the Russian destruction programme. In this respect, we are greatly heartened, and warmly welcome the 10 plus 10 billion dollars pledged for these and related WMD purposes over the next 10 years.
In 2001, the Russian Federation adopted and presented its new CW destruction programme for Category 1 CW – the largest stockpiles - which provides for the extension of various deadlines in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
Last month, as you know, the Seventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the CWC, approved in principle the extension of the two first intermediate deadlines, with some details to be worked out at a later stage and in the understanding that the issues relating to the extension of remaining deadlines would be addressed at the next session of the Conference in 2003.
I am confident that Russia’s concrete steps in these areas will encourage and be met by parallel and also concrete measures by donor countries.
It is five years since Russia ratified the Convention. We look now to the period ahead, and to increasing dialogue and understanding. Cooperation and good will on both sides will be critical to this process, which we all recognise is of enormous importance, not only for Russia but for the international community as a whole.
you all very much for your attention.