Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at the Fourth Review Conference in response to the USA, United Kingdom and Canada accusing Russia of not observing its obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention
Unofficial translation from Russian
Distinguished Mr. Chair,
We consider absolutely unacceptable the groundless accusations voiced in the statement of the United States that Russia is in violation of its obligations under Article I of the CWC pertaining to alleged involvement of Russian nationals in use of a nerve agent in Salisbury. Such statements have absolutely no bearing on the facts and are effectively aired to influence the international community. The refusal of the United Kingdom to cooperate in any form with Russia on the “Skripal case”, which would be in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC only underlines the emptiness of the accusations. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom has addressed the Technical Secretariat with a request to confirm the outcomes of its own national investigation, which contradicts the goals and objectives of technical assistance provided to a State Party under subparagraph e) of paragraph 38 of Article VIII of the CWC. As follows from the presented materials on the assistance provided in connection to Salisbury and Amesbury cases, we have to state the politically motivated nature of the undertaken measures.
On April 18, 2018 at the meeting of the Special Session of the Executive Council Russia announced that the problem of the “Novichok” family is the problem of the Western states. It was in violation of Article I of the CWC that the chemical laboratories of the Western countries researched the structures of over a hundred chemical compounds. Such activities were carried out in the United States, as well as at the Center of Excellence created under the auspices of NATO in Czech Republic. At this center all leading Western countries conducted their research.
The Russian Federation has officially submitted to the OPCW Technical Secretariat a document including about a thousand of new chemical compounds that were proposed to be introduced in the CWC Control Schedules. These proposals include, inter alia, 400 chemical compounds that were developed in the United States, patented as chemical weapons before the signing of the Convention yet not present in the Schedule at the final stage of work on the Convention. That is what constitutes a grave violation of international obligations under the Convention! In light of this, the proposal of the United States, Canada and the Netherlands to include only two compounds in the Schedules of the Convention looks absolutely insufficient as far as undertaking measures for strengthening the Convention goes.
Recently for some reason the United States has been taking on the role of solemn custodians of the Convention. Pointing out to other States Parties at their alleged transgressions against the Convention. But what of the United States itself? We would like to specifically point out that the observation of its obligations under the Convention by the USA is fraught with cherry-picking. Any provisions of the Conventions that do not coincide with the US interests are effectively ignored by Washington.
As an example, the US Congress has made 28 reservations in the process of ratification of the Convention, that allow to circumvent its provisions.
Specifically: prohibit on export of any chemical samples taken in the United States; limit the inspections in the USA carried out by the OPCW experts pertaining to identifying activities prohibited under the Convention at the request of another State Party; keep in force the Executive Decree no.11850 of April 8, 1975 allowing the use of riot control agents in war, which is also prohibited under Article I of the CWC. The United States is practically the only state keeping a reservation on the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare of 1925, that provides for a possibility to use chemical weapons in retaliation.
It is also worth mentioning that in 2003-2011 the US and British specialists found in Iraq over 4.5 thousand of chemical artillery shells, rockets and air bombs and covertly destroyed them without verification by the OPCW Technical Secretariat. The main reason for covering up the situation was the apparent unwillingness to expose the involvement of the United States in the past chemical warfare program of Iraq. Notably after the journalist investigation carried out by the New York Times it was revealed that the CIA had implemented a whole program of buying from the population and individual militants undetected, abandoned and stolen chemical items form the stockpiles of Saddam Hussein
A report on such unusual method of destruction of stockpiles was submitted by the United States to the OPCW only in 2009 to convince the Executive Council of the Organization that the undertaken measures “fully complied with the spirit of the Convention. In turn, the Technical Secretariat then refused to investigate due to alleged “emergency in the situation” and the fact that the CWC lacked the provision on destruction of chemical weapons in combat environment.
Thus the United States and the United Kingdom committed a major violation of the CWC requirements and avoided any assessment of their actions by the international community. The overall volume of detected, destroyed in the field and exported to the USA chemical weapons cannot be properly assessed.
We also question a large number of munitions with allegedly unknown chemicals being destroyed in the United States. We are asked to show trust: apparently those are very old munitions. But we all not that old adage: trust, but verify! It may turn out that under the label of unknown equipment one could hide the traces of undeclared activities in military chemistry.
The United States has likewise not presented all available information on the locations, types, quantities, as well as data on abandonment and state of abandoned chemical weapons.
The United States has not recognized the origin of seven air bombs and one air spray tank with phosgene and cyanogen chloride abandoned by Pentagon in Panama, even though the experts of the OPCW Technical Secretariat as early as 2002 confirmed that they originate from the USA.
A substantial amount of abandoned chemical weapons with CA and CS left by the United States dating back to the Vietnam was found in Cambodia. The OPCW special mission identified that it came from the USA. Yet Washington is silent on that one.
Under the pretext of fighting terrorism in Syria the United States illegally deployed its military contingent. The true reason for American military presence in the region, however, is abetting extremist groups active in Syria to prop up the US political interests. It is those groups that are behind provocations with the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun and other numerous chemical-related incidents. To create beneficial informational background we see active use of terrorist-affiliated NGOs such as “White Helmets” that have been repeatedly exposed for preparing staged incidents with the use of chemical weapons, for example, in Duma. Time and time again we have informed both the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council on the invalid nature of these allegations. Thus the United States essentially condone chemical terrorism.
It is therefore explicitly evident that the United States accuses Russia and other countries to shift the focus of attention from its own sordid affairs. We call upon the United States to cease and desist from deceiving the international community. Instead the USA should better recognize that it has to take steps to render its activities in conformity with the CWC requirements.
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
We would ask to circulate this statement as an official document and publish it on the OPCW website.