CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT
CD/PV.614 (27 February 1992)
Final Record of the 614th Plenary Meeting (27 February 1992)
Mr. DONOWAKI (Japan): Mr. President, first of all, I would like to reaffirm my delegation's pleasure in seeing you in the Chair, and we are confident that under your able and skilful chairmanship our work in the CD will make successful progress. I should also like to express to the previous President, Ambassador Calovski of Yugoslavia, my delegation's sincere appreciation for the great contribution he made at the beginning of this session of the Conference. May I also state that we listened with great interest to the important statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Poland, His Excellency Mr. Kostarczyk? I should also like to express my delegation's gratitude for the contribution made by Ambassador Konatina over the years in the Conference on Disarmament and our regret that he will be leaving us soon.
The purpose of my intervention is, of course, to state the position of my Government on the question raised by the previous speaker. I listened with much interest to the statement that the Chinese Government has great interest in achieving the chemical weapons convention this year, and was very encouraged by the reference to the four-nation proposal on challenge inspection to which the Chinese Government has been giving serious consideration, since Japan is one of the co-sponsors of the four-nation proposal. I am very much encouraged by that fact. On the question of old and abandoned chemical weapons, my delegation has taken a consistent policy for some time, but perhaps it is important to repeat it to help achieve an early conclusion of the negotiations. The purpose of our negotiations, as the previous speaker pointed out, is to achieve a convention which will effectively destroy existing chemical weapons. Of course, we know that some States have a large stock of chemical weapons. One of the major purposes of the convention is to deal with these. At the same time, however, we should also take into account the importance of destroying old and abandoned chemical weapons. The purpose of the convention is also, in the long term, to prevent the production of chemical weapons by introducing a system to check compliance with it - a very complicated task. That is why our negotiations are going through very difficult phases. So these are the broad objectives of our convention which should be formulated in such a way that there will be no gaps or loopholes in achieving this purpose.
We have to make sure that all possible cases of old and abandoned chemical weapons will be covered by the convention, not only those referred to in the working paper submitted concerning our two countries, but also others and each case is different. For that reason, the work and consultations being conducted by Friend of the Chair Ambassador Brotodiningrat of Indonesia are very important, and we highly appreciate the efforts he is making. My delegation will make every constructive effort to cooperate with him in finding an early solution, together with other countries.
However, my delegation's position is that this Conference is not the forum for bilateral issues. In the case of the latter, we have been making honest and serious efforts, apart from the negotiations in this Conference, and we are working towards a successful settlement of them. I do not wish therefore to dwell upon this side of our efforts. I will simply state that the working paper submitted this morning gives preliminary data exemplifying one case of abandoned weapons.
In order to arrive at a satisfactory framework for dealing with the question of abandoned chemical weapons, I have to reiterate the positions we have consistently taken on this question. Old and abandoned chemical weapons discovered by States parties to this convention will not all be of the same type - there are many different varieties. Also, it is a fact that any State party has sovereignty over its territory and should have primary concern for the destruction of such weapons. I do not insist that this should be stated as a responsibility, but rather as a concern - in normal cases - for the country which finds such weapons on its territory. The amount may be small, and the time that has elapsed between the abandoning and discovery may be so long that they may not be poisoned or dangerous and might perhaps be dealt with as a question of environmental hazard. This should be easy to do in many cases. However, there may be other cases where a country discovering such old and abandoned weapons may not find it easy to destroy them.
As regards provision in the convention - as may be supported by some States members of this Conference - if destruction is to be made the responsibility of the abandoning State, then it is my delegation's view that this may introduce complications, because the abandoning State will not normally have jurisdiction or the sovereign right to enter the territory of another State party where abandoned chemical weapons may be discovered; also, it may sometimes be very difficult to establish or identify the country which may have abandoned them. The abandoning State may not be a State party to the Convention. Thus, a loophole or gap may be created, i.e., that nobody will destroy such dangerous abandoned weapons. The existing provisions of the "rolling text", after many years of negotiations, seem to have received the support of most nations. My delegation believes that if it is established that a certain country has abandoned old chemical weapons and the country where they are discovered wishes the abandoning country to cooperate, such an arrangement should certainly be provided for in the convention. We will carefully study the concrete proposals which the Chinese delegation has presented in the past and today. In particular, my delegation is interested in the proposal regarding article X, for cases where the identity of abandoned chemical weapons has not been established, providing for assistance in their destruction by the technical secretariat. That kind of provision is one way to close the gap, so in that sense my delegation will be greatly interested in studying further that kind of very constructive proposal.
Also I should like to point out that even in the Chairman's summary on this question for 1990 it was stated that the discovering State should not a priori be made responsible for the destruction of such weapons. At the same time, however, it did not state that the abandoning State should have this responsibility. The question of responsibility is a very delicate one and if we try to provide for the responsibility of States retroactively for who knows how many years, we will create some confusion. For that reason my delegation believes that a more practical approach, rather than establishing such responsibility, would be to make appropriate provisions to settle the question satisfactorily. My delegation is ready to make concrete proposals which should be feasible, practical and conducive to the settlement of this question in our negotiations.
Of course, we are aware that in connection with the question of old and abandoned chemical weapons, there are suggestions that perhaps a cut-off date should be set at a certain point in the past which might help solve the problem to a great extent. My delegation may agree to such suggestions. But all these matters should be discussed in the consultations to be conducted by the Friend of the Chair, the Ambassador of Indonesia.