The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, accompanied a delegation of Executive Council (EC) representatives to the People’s Republic of China from 9 to 13 September 2013, where they visited facilities for the excavation, recovery and destruction of abandoned chemical weapons (ACWs) in Haerbaling, Jilin Province.
The purpose of the visit was to assess the status of efforts to eliminate chemical weapons stored at Haerbaling that were abandoned by Japan on Chinese territory in World War II. The visit was the first-ever visit by an EC delegation to China and in accordance with an Executive Council decision in July 2012. The delegation was led by the EC Vice-Chair, Ambassador Miguel Calahorrano Camino of Ecuador, and comprised representatives of each of the five OPCW regional groups and observers from other interested States Parties.
“We want to thank the Governments of China and Japan for having arranged this visit,” said Ambassador Calahorrano. “The EC found it most informative in understanding the complexities surrounding the destruction of ACWs abandoned by Japan on the territory of China.” He complimented the two States Parties for their co-operation and urged them to continue working closely to ensure that destruction of the ACWs is completed as soon as possible.
As of July 2013 approximately 50,000 ACWs items have been recovered in 19 provinces across China, of which more than 37,000 have been destroyed as verified by the OPCW. This includes items that were destroyed at the Nanjing Mobile Destruction Facility (MDF) in Jiangsu Province as well as destruction of ACW items at the Shijiazhuang MDF in Hebei Province.
ACW recovery and excavation operations began at Haerbaling in December of 2012 and destruction operations there are expected to begin in 2014. The strategy for destroying Japanese ACWs in China is to employ a fixed facility in Haerbaling, one MDF that can be transported for use in pre-determined locations of northern China, and a second MDF for use in the south of the country.
Under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Japan as the abandoning State Party shall provide all necessary financial and technical resources, as well as experts, facilities and other resources, to destroy the declared ACWs. As the Territorial State Party, China provides appropriate co-operation and infrastructure support with the OPCW providing verification oversight of the destruction operations.
In Beijing the delegation met the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Zhai Jun, and the Principle Officer of the Ministry of National Defence, and attended a dinner at the Japanese Embassy.