H.E. Ambassador Chang Dong-hee, Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, at First Committee of the General Assembly
1. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) remains the fundamental legal and normative foundation for our collective endeavours to prohibit and prevent the use of biological and bio-toxic weapons. However, with advances in biotechnology and the life sciences, as well as their widespread availability, there is a greater risk that proliferators, both state and non-state, might take advantage of loopholes inherent in the BWC. In light of the potential threats posed by these developments, there is an urgent need to reinforce the BWC. This is indeed imperative if we wish to address these new challenges adequately while still fully maximizing the benefits of biotechnology for peaceful uses.
2. That is why my delegation attaches particular importance to the upcoming Sixth Review Conference, in November of this year. Following the failure of the last Review Conference, in 2001, my delegation hopes that the Conference this year will provide us with a fresh opportunity to assess how the Convention in its entirety has been working for the last 10 years. Through a comprehensive, article-by-article review of the Convention, we should identify the areas in which additional work and cooperation among States Parties are needed. States Parties should explore ways to ensure full implementation and to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention.
3. In this regard, our discussions over the past three years attest to the value of intersessional work, which we believe should continue beyond Sixth Review Conference. Indeed, it would be constructive for the intersessional work to be conducted on a more regular and formal basis. Proceeding in this way would ensure increased continuity between Review Conferences.
4. Moreover, we should also seriously consider ways to further promote universal adherence and national implementation of the Convention, and particularly of the confidence-building measures it sets out. To this end, the Republic of Korea is drawing up a working paper on the universalization of the Convention, which we will circulate in due course.
5. Our efforts to ensure the prohibition of biological weapons, combat their proliferation and secure the viability of the BWC regime demand a successful outcome from the upcoming Review Conference. My delegation calls on all States Parties to show flexibility and take an open-minded approach so that we can achieve significant tangible results.
6. Turning to the matter of chemical weapons, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is held in high regard by the international community as a model for disarmament and non-proliferation organisations. My delegation believes that the efforts of possessor states towards the non-discriminative destruction of their chemical weapons have greatly contributed to this positive appraisal.
7. My delegation is confident that all possessor states are fully committed to making their best efforts to complete the destruction of their chemical weapons stockpiles as soon as possible. We understand that stockpile destruction may be delayed by domestic factors such as environmental protection requirements and concerns for the safety of workers involved in the destruction process.
8. Nevertheless, we note that the Convention clearly stipulates that in no case shall the deadline for a State Party to complete its destruction of all chemical weapons be extended beyond April 2012. We urge all possessor states to do their utmost to meet this obligation without any exceptions.
9. To achieve the fundamental goal of the Convention the total destruction of all chemical weapons worldwide universal accession is obviously necessary, and this has been a top priority for the OPCW. In this regard, my delegation greatly appreciates the efforts of the OPCW Director-General and the Secretariat to achieve the goal, set at the 10th CWC Review Conference, of increasing the number of States Parties to 180 by the end of this year.
10. With some countries still remaining outside the Convention, our challenges are not yet overcome. As long as those countries choose to remain outside the framework of the CWC, the serious threat of chemical weapons is still with us. We therefore urge those countries to respond to the call from the OPCW immediately and without conditions. We also encourage the OPCW to strengthen its efforts to persuade those countries to participate in the Convention as soon as possible.
11. As for national implementation of the CWC, my delegation appreciates the progress that has been made to ensure full implementation of the Convention by States Parties and commends the Secretariat for the assistance it has provided. However, we must not become complacent. In light of the increasing threat of terrorist attacks involving WMDs, States Parties should be especially vigilant in their full implementation of the Convention to ensure that no chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands. We urge all States Parties to adopt national CWC implementation measures as soon as possible.