THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 21 June 2017 — A high-level delegation representing the OPCW Executive Council visited the People’s Republic of China from 12 to 16 June 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, approximately 56,000 ACW-related items have been found at over 90 locations throughout China. Of these, approximately 46,000 items have been verified as destroyed by the OPCW as of May2017. However, this does not include the estimated 330,000 items buried at Haerbaling, Jilin Province, nor does it include items at other locations that have yet to be recovered and declared.
Led by Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh 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. Director-General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü also joined the EC delegation during this visit.
“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 Belal. “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.”
The delegation met with Mr Li Baodong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China; Major General Wu Xiaoyi, Commissioner of the Office of International Military Cooperation at the Central Military Commission; and Chief of the Office for the Disposal of Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office at the Ministry of National Defence of China.
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 Zhao Wei, Deputy Director General, Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of China; and Mr Motoi Satake, Director General, Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.
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 11-14 July 2017.
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 appropriate 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 including a 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.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, nearly 95 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.