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Conference on disarmament: U.S. draft chemical weapons convention



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N°- D8 Date 18 Apri l 1.984 | 9j Embargoed until 2200

Wednesday 18 April 1984

CONFERENCE. ON. DISARMAMENT:

U.S. DRAFT CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION

Attached is. the text of the Address by the Australian Ambassador for Disarmaments H.E. Mr Richard Butler/ to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on 18 April 1984 on the subject of the United States Draft C+iemical Weapons Convention presented to the; CD by Vice-President Bush on

18 April 1984.

MR PRESIDENT

MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY AGO, AUSTRALIA ACCEDED TO THE GENEVA PROTOCOL PROHIBITING THE USE IN WAR OF ASPHYXIATING, POISONOUS OR OTHER GASES.

THAT ACTION GAVE EXPRESSION, IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, TO THE ABHORRENCE FELT BY THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE FOR THIS DREADFUL AND INDISCRIMINATORY CLASS OF WEAPONS.

THE FIRST INVOLVEMENT IN WIDER INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OF THE THEN NEWLY UNIFIED AUSTRALIAN NATION WAS BY AUSTRALIAN TROOPS WHO WENT TO EUROPE IN 1914-18, EVERY ONE OF THEM VOLUNTARILY, TO ASSIST IN THE DEFENCE OF EUROPE. .

MANY OF THOSE YOUNG AUSTRALIANS WERE GASSED. THEY WERE AMONGST THE FIRST VICTIMS OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

THAT HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE ENDURES INDELIBLY IN THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL C O N SCIOUSNESS AND HISTORY.

IT WAS A DEEPLY TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE AND IT REMAINS TODAY A POTENT SOURCE OF AUSTRALIA'S DEEP COMMITMENT AGAINST CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

THESE WEAPONS ARE ABHORRENT. THEY MUST BE OUTLAWED AND ELIMINATED.

THE GENEVA PROTOCOL WAS NECESSARY AND AUSTRALIA CONTINUES TO SUPPORT IT, BUT IT MUST BE RECOGNISED THAT THE GENEVA PROTOCOL IS AN INCOMPLETE INSTRUMENT. IT FAILS, FOR EXAMPLE, TO OUTLAW

THE DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, OR STOCK-PILING OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

THESE WEAPONS CONTINUE TO EXIST AND REPORTEDLY IN QUANTITIES AND KINDS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE.

WHAT IS WORSE, THESE WEAPONS CONTINUE TO BE USED.

FOUR WEEKS AGO THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS, SENT A TEAM OF EXPERTS TO IRAN TO INVESTIGATE THE ALLEGED USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN THE WAR IN THE GULF. AN AUSTRALIAN SCIENTIST WAS A MEMBER OF THAT TEAM.

THE EXPERTS' REPORT WAS UNAMBIGUOUS, UNANIMOUS, AND DEEPLY DISTURBING.

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MUSTARD GAS HAS BEEN USED IN THE GULF WAR AND, FOR THE FIRST TIME

IN DOCUMENTED HISTORY, A NERVE AGENT HAS BEEN USED.

A NEW INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION PREVENTING THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND ENSURING THAT SUCH USE IS MADE IMPOSSIBLE THROUGH THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL CHEMICAL WEAPONS IS URGENTLY REQUIRED.

THE MAKING OF SUCH A CONVENTION'IS A TASK OF GREAT MAGNITUDE.

IT IS A CHALLENGE WE MUST ACCEPT.

THE ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN PRESENTING TO THIS CONFERENCE A COMPREHENSIVE DRAFT CONVENTION ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS PICKS UP THAT CHALLENGE WITH COURAGE AND DETERMINATION.

THE EARNESTNESS OF THE UNITED STATES’ INTENTIONS AT THIS TIME HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED BY THE PRESENCE HERE, TODAY OF THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. THE LENGTH AND DETAIL OF THE DOCUMENT AND ITS PRESENTATION TELL OF THE EFFORT WHICH HAS GONE INTO ITS PREPARATION. .

MR PRESIDENT, IT IS SOMETIMES SAID THAT ’POLITICS IS THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE'. MORE IMPORTANT IN POLITICS AND IN HISTORY IS THAT AN OPPORTUNITY LOST, OR NOT RECOGNISED IN TIME, CAN BE AN OPPORTUNITY LOST FOREVER.

IN THE PRESENT CASE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, MY GOVERNMENT BELIEVES THAT THIS CONFERENCE NOW FACES AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY. IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY, AND A POSSIBILITY, THAT WE SHOULD NOT LET SLIP T H R O U G H OUR FINGERS.

OUR PEOPLES, AND SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS, WOULD FAIL TO UNDERSTAND IF WE DID NOT GRASP IT.

WE HAVE A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR DEVELOPING THE FINAL TEXT OF A CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION SUCH AS IS DEMANDED BY ALL MEMBERS OF THIS CONFERENCE.

THE SOVIET UNION AND THE UNITED STATES HELD EXTENSIVE BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS ON OUTLAWING CHEMICAL WEAPONS.FROM 1976 TO 1980. THESE DISCUSSIONS P R O D U C E D AGREEMENT ON MANY ISSUES FUNDAMENTAL TO AN ALL EMBRACING BAN ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND WERE COMMUNICATED TO THE CD IN A JOINT PAPER AT THE TIME. THE CD AND ITS

PREDECESSOR BODIES HAVE ALSO WORKED FOR MANY YEARS TOWARDS THIS CONVENTION.

DURING THE LAST 3 OR 4 YEARS THIS PROCESS HAS BEEN CARRIED FURTHER. A GREAT DEAL OF CONSTRUCTIVE WORK TOWARDS A CONVENTION HAS BEEN DONE WITHIN THE CD. MANY MEMBER STATES HAVE MADE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS. WELL OVER 100 WORKING DOCUMENTS COVERING MANY DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF MATTERS ESSENTIAL TO THE CONVENTION HAVE BEEN TABLED AND DISCUSSED IN THIS CONFERENCE.

THIS PROCESS OF BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL CONSULTATION HAS PRODUCED AN IMPRESSIVE DEGREE OF CONSENSUS ON SUCH MATTERS AS DEFINITIONS, THE PROHIBITIONS NEEDED, THE NEED TO DESTROY WEAPONS STOCKS AND DECOMMISSION PRODUCTION FACILITIES, AND THE IDENTIFICATION OF ACTIVITIES WHICH NEED TO BE REGULATED BY THE CONVENTION.

JUST HOW FAR WE HAVE COME TOWARDS COMMON VIEWS CAN BE SEEN FROM THE SIGNIFICANT AREA OF ACCORD BETWEEN THE SOVIET UNION'S 1982 BASIC PROVISIONS FOR A CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION PRESENTED TO THE SECOND SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEVOTED TO

DISARMAMENT - AND THE UNITED STATES DRAFT THAT HAS BEEN TABLED TODAY. BOTH DOCUMENTS OF COURSE DRAW ON THE WORK AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THIS CONFERENCE. OUR WORK TOWARDS ELIMINATING CHEMICAL WEAPONS HAS NOW BEEN GIVEN ADDED IMPETUS AND RELEVANCE BY THE UNITED

STATES INITIATIVE.

WHAT WILL NOW BE OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE IS THAT ALL CONCERNED RESOLVE TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH.

THAT NEGOTIATION WILL NECESSARILY RAISE MANY ISSUES OF REAL CONTENTION AND CONCERN. BUT BECAUSE OF THE STAKES AT ISSUE, BECAUSE THE WEAPONS CONCERNED ARE TERRIBLE, BECAUSE THE SECURITY OF ALL OF OUR PEOPLES IS INVOLVED, WE MUST NOT BE DAUNTED

BY THE SIZE OF THE JOB.

NEGOTIATION OF THIS CONVENTION IS NO LESS AMBITIOUS AND UNDERTAKING THAN WAS THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY AND ITS ASSOCIATED INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS. THAT TREATY AND ITS MECHANISMS WERE

SUCCESSFULLY NEGOTIATED DESPITE THE DIFFICULTY OF THE ENTERPRISE. THERE WERE AN ABUNDANCE OF SCEPTICS WHO SAID IT COULD NOT BE DONE, BUT IT HAS BEEN DONE. THAT TREATY IS IN FORCE IN 124 NATIONS AND IN THE OPINION OF MOST OF US IT WORKS WELL. SIMILARLY WITH

THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION, IT CAN AND IT MUST BE DONE.

MR PRESIDENT, AUSTRALIA BELIEVES THAT FOR AN EFFECTIVE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION SPECIAL EMPHASIS MUST BE GIVEN TO THREE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS:

FIRST, AN U N C O M P R O M I S I N G PROHIBITION OF THE USE (UNDERLINE ONE) OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

SECOND, PROVISION FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF EXISTING STOCKS OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND FOR THE PROHIBITION OF THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION OF SUCH WEAPONS.

THIRD, A VERIFICATION REGIME THAT WILL ENSURE THAT THESE TREATY COMMITMENTS ARE BEING HONOURED.

RIGOROUS STANDARDS WILL BE INVOLVED, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF VERIFICATION. THERE CAN BE NO SECURITY IN SUCH A CONVENTION UNLESS THE MEANS OF VERIFICATION OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE CONVENTION ARE EFFECTIVE AND SEEN TO BE EFFECTIVE. WE MUST NEGOTIATE THE VERIFICATION PROVISIONS WITH GREAT CARE.

WE ARE AWARE THAT THERE ARE DIFFERING VIEWS ON WHAT ARRANGEMENTS FOR VERIFICATION WOULD BE REQUIRED TO ENSURE CONFIDENCE THAT THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE CONVENTION ARE BEING OBSERVED. THE UNITED

STATES DRAFT IS PARTICULARLY VALUABLE IN POINTING TO THE STANDARD OF VERIFICATION NEEDED FOR THIS PURPOSE.

WE APPRECIATED THE STATEMENT BY THE SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THIS CONFERENCE ON 21 FEBRUARY, WITH REGARD TO VERIFICATION OF DESTRUCTION OF STOCK-PILES. THAT STATEMENT ADDRESSED ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE AREA OF VERIFICATION. IT SEEMED TO INDICATE A WILLINGNESS TO FIND NEGOTIATED ANSWERS TO THE PROBLEMS OF VERIFICATION.

IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE PROCEED TO FURTHER EXTEND SUCH NEGOTIATIONS.

MY GOVERNMENT BELIEVES THAT IT IS NOT BEYOND THE INGENUITY OF THE MEMBERS OF THIS CONFERENCE TO FIND THE REQUIRED SOLUTIONS TO THESE PROBLEMS, WITHOUT C O M PROMISING OUR RESPECTIVE NATIONAL INTERESTS.

MR PRESIDENT, AUSTRALIA DEEPLY APPRECIATES THE POLITICAL COMMITMENT EXPRESSED IN THE UNITED STATES' ACTION IN PRESENTING THIS DRAFT AND THE STATED WILLINGNESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO

ENTER INTO NEGOTIATIONS WITH FULL COMMITMENT AND GOOD FAITH.

WE ALSO DEEPLY APPRECIATE THAT THIS DRAFT CONVENTION HAS BEEN PRESENTED TO OUR CONFERENCE. THAT ACTION CONFIRMS THE STATED AND ACKNOWLEDGED ROLE OF THIS CONFERENCE. IT VALIDATES A PRINCIPLE TO WHICH ALL MEMBERS OF THIS CONFERENCE ARE DEEPLY ATTACHED, THAT ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGREEMENTS CAN BE NEGOTIATED MULTILATERALLY AND MUST BE BECAUSE THE INTERESTS OF ALL OF US ARE INVOLVED.

AUSTRALIA ACCEPTS THE PRESENT CHALLENGE. IT WILL NOT FAIL TO SEIZE THE PRESENT OPPORTUNITY. IT WILL PARTICIPATE WITH ALL POSSIBLE VIGOUR, WITH ITS FELLOW MEMBERS OF THIS CONFERENCE, TO BRING INTO EXISTENCE, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, A CONVENTION

WHICH WILL ENSURE THAT CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARE NEVER AGAIN USED AND WHICH WILL ELIMINATE THOSE WEAPONS FOR ALL TIME.

THANK YOU MR PRESIDENT. ENDS