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Copyright 2006 Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc.
State Department Documents and Publications

July 7, 2006


LENGTH: 577 words

HEADLINE: U.S. Requests Chemical Weapons Destruction Deadline Extension;
Request would give the U.S. five more years to destroy chemical stockpile


Washington -- The United States has requested an extension to the deadline for completing the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, a U.S. ambassador says.

Ambassador Eric Javits, head of the U.S. delegation to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told the council July 4 at The Hague, Netherlands, that although the United States had announced the decision to request an extension, it delayed submitting a draft request to provide ample information about the move and to listen to the comments, suggestions and concerns of others.

"We have appreciated your thoughtful and constructive comments, and recognize the concerns that have been raised," Javits said.

The threat of chemical weapons use no longer is confined to combat, he said. "The threat now also comes from terrorists and non-state actors," Javits added, as they may threaten "us in our homes and cities."

The Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force April 29, 1997, bans the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons. It also prohibits the use or preparation for use of chemical weapons and the assistance, encouragement or inducement of anyone else to engage in activities prohibited by the convention.

The draft request would extend the deadline for the destruction of the entire U.S. chemical weapons stockpile from April 2007 to April 2012. After OPCW states have a chance to consider the U.S. text, Javits said he hopes the council will endorse it at its next session in November.

In April, Javits told the executive council that it took the United States "longer than anticipated to build facilities and to obtain the necessary permits and consent to begin destruction of chemical weapons, and we have found that, once operating, our facilities have not destroyed weapons as rapidly as we initially projected." (See related article.)

"Let me emphatically reiterate that the United States is committed to the earliest possible completion of destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles," Javits said. "We are making every effort and continuing to seek opportunities to improve our [chemical weapons] destruction with a view to meeting the 2012 deadline or completing destruction as soon after that date as feasible." (See related article.)

The U.S. commitment and its efforts to meet its chemical weapons obligations "should be patently manifest," Javits said, from government assurances offered "at every level" as well from a high rate of past expenditures and future destruction cost projections.

Total U.S. expenditure to destroy its chemical stockpile completely currently is expected to reach $35 billion.

Javits said the United States is "equally committed to full transparency" about the status of its program, and is "ready to meet with any delegation to address any questions or concerns about the U.S. extension request."

In addition to urging states to persuade additional countries to endorse the chemical weapons convention, Javits also emphasized the importance of enactment of national laws by existing members that will enable them to fulfill treaty obligations.

The full text of Javits' remarks as prepared for delivery is available on the State Department Web site.

For additional information about U.S. policy, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

LOAD-DATE: July 9, 2006

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