A high-level delegation representing the OPCW Executive Council visited the People’s Republic of China from 8-12 June 2015 to assess the status of efforts to destroy chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China. The visit also provided an opportunity for the delegation to better understand the technical and administrative issues associated with the recovery, identification and destruction of abandoned chemical weapons (ACW) in China. To date, an estimated 50,000 ACW-related items have been found at over 90 locations throughout China. Of these, approximately 37,000 items have been verified as destroyed as of January 2015.
The delegation met with Mr Li Baodong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China; and Mr Li Kong, Head of the Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office, Ministry of National Defence of China. The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü also joined the EC delegation for these meetings.
Led by Ambassador Francesco Azzarello, Permanent Representative of Italy to the OPCW and Chair of the OPCW Executive Council, the delegation visited the Haerbaling Abandoned Chemical Weapon Test Destruction Facility, located in Jilin Province in north-east China. The Haerbaling site is estimated to contain an additional 300,000 – 400,000 ACW-related items which require excavation and identification before the destruction process can be initiated.
“On behalf of the Executive Council delegation, I would like to note the good level of cooperation between China and Japan to complete the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons in China,” said Ambassador Azzarello. “During our visit, we took note of the high level of commitment to complete this task with the strong support of the OPCW Executive Council and the Technical Secretariat.”
During the visit, Chinese and Japanese Government officials provided information on destruction-related activities to the delegation and accompanied the group throughout the visit. Briefings to the delegation were provided by Mr Hong Cai, Director General, Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of China; and Mr Kenichi Takahashi, Director General, Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.
Following the visit, the delegation will issue a report to the OPCW Executive Council that encapsulates its findings related to the progress of ACW destruction. The OPCW Executive Council will consider the report at its next meeting from 7-10 July 2015.
The Chemical Weapons Convention provides a framework for facilitating destruction of ACW. It stipulates that Japan, as the Abandoning State Party, is required to provide all necessary financial and technical means, as well as expertise, facilities and other resources, to destroy declared ACW. As the Territorial State Party in this case, China provides an appropriate level of cooperation.
As the implementing organisation of the Convention, the OPCW is mandated to verify the destruction of ACW as well as providing technical support as required. Following the OPCW Executive Council’s approval of a destruction plan and timeline for destruction of these weapons, the OPCW verifies destruction operations through a combination of physical presence during on-site inspections, the use of monitoring and recording equipment and review of relevant documentation.