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Copyright 2006 British Broadcasting Corporation
All Rights Reserved
BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political
Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

December 6, 2006 Wednesday

LENGTH: 586 words

HEADLINE: Chinese envoy urges destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles by 2012


Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

The Hague, 5 December: China on Tuesday [5 December] reaffirmed its commitment to promote the implementation of the treaty banning chemical weapons worldwide and called on countries concerned to destroy all chemical weapons stockpiles by the 2012 deadline. The calls were made by Xue Hanqin, China's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), while addressing an annual meeting of the signatory states of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in The Hague on Tuesday.

The treaty has played a crucial role in banning and destroying chemical weapons and in preventing their proliferation since its entry into force on April 29, 1997, said Xue, who is also Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands. And China is always committed to the purpose and principles of the convention and has honoured its obligations, she said. China attaches great importance to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and has adopted an export control regime, which is strictly enforced, she added.

Noting that the early and complete destruction of chemical weapons is the fundamental goal set by the CWC, Xue expressed her regret that some countries are falling behind the destruction schedule prescribed in the document. "China believes that the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles in line with the timetable is a matter that has some bearing on the authority and credibility of the CWC," she said. "The possessor states should... [ellipsis as received] speed up their destruction process and make sure that all their chemical weapons are destroyed before the deadline expires," the Chinese envoy said.

According to the CWC, signatory states should destroy all their chemical weapons by 29 April, 2007. If there is difficulty in meeting the requirement, the deadline could be extended only once, by five years.

Five of the six countries, including such major possessors of chemical weapons as the United States and Russia, have asked to extend the deadline to 29 April, 2012. Whether or not to grant them the extension will be one of the key topics at the annual meeting of the signatories.

Xue called for enhanced international cooperation in the chemical field, saying it could play a positive role in promoting regular trade among signatories. Xue also urged Japan to step up its effort and increase its input in the disposal of chemical weapons it abandoned in China during the World War II, as they pose grave threats to both the security of human lives and the ecological environment. Despite some positive progress in the disposal of such abandoned weapons thanks to the cooperation between the two countries, "the substantive destruction process is yet to start," she said.

The CWC is an international disarmament treaty which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons. It currently has 181 signatory countries, representing about 98 per cent of the global population. The OPCW, with its headquarters in The Hague, is mandated to oversee the implementation of the chemical weapons treaty.

In the past nine years, 22 per cent of the world's declared stockpile of approximately 71,000 metric tons of chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed, and 57 of the 65 declared chemical weapons production facilities have been either destroyed or converted into the use for peaceful purposes.

Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0323 gmt 6 Dec 06

LOAD-DATE: December 6, 2006

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