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The OPCW Three Years After EIF: New Challenges Ahead for the Verification Regime Under the CWC
July 10, 2000
Jean-Nicolas Gilliquet, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Mr. Gilliquet opened his presentation by briefly describing the content, structure and history of the Convention on Chemical Weapons (CWC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Highlights includes:
- As of April 29, 2000 (EIF + 3), 135 states had signed and ratified, 37 had only signed, and 21 had yet to sign. Of those states that have not yet ratified or signed the CWC, regions of particular concern are the Middle East, Africa, and North Korea.
- The OPCW remains a relatively "lean" organization with an annual budget of approximately $50 million ("roughly equal to two F-16 fighter planes").
- The professional staff of the OPCW is diverse in terms of geography and expertise, though this may suffer due to the current system of limited tenure.
- 700+ inspections were conducted in 35 different countries during the first three years. All of these were routine inspections (i.e. no challenge inspections or investigations of alleged use).
- As of April 29, 2000 all States Parties had submitted their initial declarations and almost half of the declared CW production capacity had been eliminated.
- While the U.S., India, and other declared CW states have met the CWC destruction timetable (1% in three years), there have been considerable delays in Russian implementation.
- Until recently, the bulk of inspector man-hours has been spent at U.S. destruction facilities. In contrast, since the U.S. has only just submitted its industry declarations, no industry inspections were conducted in the U.S. during 1998-99.
Cooperation received from inspected States Parties has generally been very good. While issues have been raised, they have been resolved through consultation between the OPCW and the inspected States Parties or are well on their way to being solved. Key issues that have arisen include:
- During Inspections: Finding the right balance between transparency and protection of confidential information, especially when dealing with the chemical industries. Also equipment usage, including questions over whether a particular piece has been approved or has the proper certification, as well as the use of global positioning system (GPS) and secure communications equipment. In the case of GPS, inspection teams were able to verify the location of facilities through alternative methods (e.g. maps, outside reference points, etc.).
- At Production Facilities: Obtaining accurate historical production data or determining how conversion is to be implemented (e.g. what equipment can be retained) at CW production facilities.
- At Storage Facilities: Limited ability to verify declarations of CW agents at storage sites due to a lack of documentation and restrictions on inspection equipment, failure to declare training munitions, simulants or empty bulk containers due to a lack of clarity over status, and questions over the tagging of items for sampling or inventory control.
- With Industry: Need to amend declarations and accurately account for waste products that are scheduled chemicals.
- Equitable Distribution of Inspections: Originally, Schedule 3 and DOC (discrete organic chemical) facilities were to be selected randomly, taking into some account the characteristics of the plant sites and an equitable geographical distribution. However, this placed much of the inspection burden on states with numerous facilities. As a result, weighing factors were introduced into the formula to correct this disparity.
- The burden of interpretation and translation of documentation.
The third anniversary of the Entry into Force of the Convention is an important date for two reasons. First, it is now forbidden for States Parties to export Schedule 2 chemicals to States not Party to the Convention. It is hoped that this will serve as an incentive for them to ratify the Treaty. Second, DOC plant sites will now be subject to inspection, increasing the number of inspectable states from 35 to 49.
The 5th Conference of States Parties, held in May of this year, also saw the achievement of important steps for the implementation of the Convention, including:
- The reappointment of Mr. Bustani as Director-General for another five-year term ("this represents a clear signal of the States Parties' appreciation of the work done in the infancy of the Organization and of their willingness to ensure a continuity of its activities")
- Six requests for the conversion of CW production facilities (four in Russia, two in UK) were approved.
- The deadline for Russia to destroy 1% of its CW stockpile was extended.
- A definition of low concentrations for the most significant substances under the control of the Convention was approved.
- The selection process of the Schedule 3 plant sites for inspection was also approved.
- Continued vigilance in meeting the timelines set up in the Convention.
- The international community following through with its expressed commitment to assist Russia in meeting its destruction requirements.
- Maintaining the credibility of the OPCW by preserving the CWC implementation regime.
- State Parties implementing necessary national measures - e.g. legislative implementation.
- Misc. specific issues such as the possible addition of protonated salts or the alkylated derivatives to the schedules of chemicals, determining the usability criteria for chemical weapons produced between 1925 and 1946, access to facilities, documentation, and public information, challenge inspection procedures, and sampling and analysis (esp. in light of the U.S. condition that no sample may leave the U.S. territory).
Among the methods available for resolving these issues are:
- Bilateral consultations between a State Party and the OPCW Technical Secretariat or between States Parties
- Examination by the Executive Council
- Referral to the Conference of States Parties
- For interpretations of the Convention there are Review Conferences every 5th year (next conference will take place between April 29, 2002 and April 29, 2003)
Both States Parties and the Technical Secretariat have learned much during the first three years and the level of cooperation has continued to grow. As indicated by its already considerable achievements, the Organization is reaching maturity. Within the restraints of what can be acceptable in terms of global politics, the verification regime of the CWC and its implementation by the OPCW have proven to be the most reliable tools on the path to a world free of chemical weapons, and represents a suitable model for other disarmament regimes. In closing, Mr. Gilliquet voiced his deeply felt hope that the ultimate objectives of the CWC will be achieved, drawing as inspiration the horrors his native Belgium suffered from gas warfare during World War I.
Questions and Answers:
Q: What responsibility does the OPCW have regarding the monitoring of non-state actors (e.g. terrorist groups) seeking to acquire chemical weapons?
A: Individual States Parties are responsible for compliance with the treaty within their borders, including any non-state actors. For example, Japan included the CW production facility of Aum Shinrikyo among its declarations, and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the treaty.
Q: Are there any discussions or negotiations between the OPCW and other groups that seek to restrict the proliferation of CW, such as the Australia Group?
A: Some States Parties have raised the issue of the conflict between the activities of organizations such as the Australia group and the rules codified in the CWC, and there has been some discussion about how this might be resolved, but I am unaware of any details regarding specific interaction between the OPCW and these groups.
Q: How will the new restrictions regarding the transfer of Schedule 2 chemicals impact Taiwan?
A: I am not sure how these restrictions will apply to Taiwan.
Q: What resources (e.g. financial, political will, etc.) does the OPCW need to be more effective?
A: I believe the OPCW is already doing an effective job with the current level of support, but its responsibilities continue to increase (e.g. DOC facilities). Unfortunately, States Parties generally seek to limit their level of financial contribution as seen by the recently agreed upon zero-growth budget.
Q: How can the international community best help support Russia in fulfilling its commitments, and what has the OPCW done to facilitate this?
A: I am not familiar with the details of all that is being done, so I would rather refer you to the significant amount of information that is available on this critical issue.
Q: So far there have been no challenge inspections. What are your expectations that some will take place?
A: Perhaps with the United States' declarations now complete, it might feel ready to make such a request, but at this time I am unaware of any instances of noncompliance that might trigger such action.
Q: How are specific field issues (i.e. inspections) resolved?
A: Every attempt is made to resolve the issue in the field with the State Party involved, but if necessary, it can be referred back to OPCW headquarters.
Q: You indicated that there are no outstanding initial declarations. How complete are those declarations?
A: All appear to be complete at this time. It is worth noting that the majority of states that were most tardy in terms of submitting initial declarations ultimately had nothing to declare.
Q: What needs to happen for the CWC to gain universal adoption in the Middle East, and will a supplementary regional arms control organization be needed?
A: Right now several Arab states (e.g. Egypt, Libya, Syria) remain steadfast in their position that they will not join the CWC until Israel signs the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The OPCW is seeking to delink these issues, as well as encouraging Israel to ratify the CWC (they have already signed). There has been some success in the region and both Sudan and Jordan have joined the treaty. As for a regional organization, I am not sure if that would be of any real benefit.
Q: What is the basis for determining the frequency of inspection and establishing a level of confidence that a State Party is in compliance?
A: It depends upon what schedule the chemical falls under, the type of facility, and the risk level assigned. Finances also play a part as the OPCW's budget only allows for a certain number of inspections per year.
Q: What are the goals of routine inspections of Schedule 3 facilities, and how are they conducted?
A: The basic objectives are to confirm the accuracy of the declaration and check for the presence of Schedule 1 chemicals. Procedures require that the inspection be completed in 24 hours, which means an effective inspection time of 8 hours.
Q: Since routine inspections of a Schedule 3 facility are relatively infrequent, aren't the chances of catching noncompliance low?
A: Yes, that is true, but this is where challenge inspections can play a part.
Prepared by Dan Callahan
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