Robert P. Mikulak
U.S. Representative to the OPCW Executive Council
The Hague, Netherlands
October 13, 2009

(As delivered)

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates,

It is a great pleasure for me to return this week to the Executive Council and to welcome you, Ambassador Lomónaco, back to the chair in what will clearly be an extremely important and busy Council session.

While we have a few prominent issues that will consume much of our time and energy, I fully realize that we have many other items on our agenda that we need to consider and, if possible, dispense with. I hope that we will be able to conclude their consideration and take appropriate action during this session, particularly those items deferred from previous sessions.

Mr. Chairman,

Our last Executive Council in July was a success. We completed a significant number of actions and concluded on time. Importantly, we heard presentations from all of the candidates for Director-General and endorsed your roadmap to guide the process for selecting our next Director-General. Since that Council session, you have led this process in a systematic, transparent and inclusive manner. We commend you for your exhaustive consultations to gauge the thinking of all Council members in an effort to narrow the field of candidates.

We have been fortunate to have seven well-qualified candidates from among whom to choose the next leader for the Organization. Each of them has strong credentials in the arms control and non-proliferation field and decades of diplomatic experience. While many qualities are important for a successful Director-General, none will be more important in the coming years than leadership. It is the next Director-General who will lead the Organization through a transition from a focus on disarmament to a focus on non-proliferation, including the role that the OPCW can play in promoting chemical safety and security best practices. This transition will require major shifts in the Organization’s activities, its personnel and its budget. We will need someone with a clear vision and the ability to build and retain the support of member states.

This Council has the responsibility of recommending one candidate to the Conference of the States Parties to be our next Director-General. This week, we must get down to the business of reaching that consensus.

The three straw polls that you have conducted, Mr. Chairman, have been very useful in allowing all members of this Council to indicate their preferences in an anonymous – yet transparent – manner. The United States thanks you, the five regional group monitors, and the staff of the Technical Secretariat, for conducting fair, honest and credible straw polls.

While difficult, narrowing the field is a necessary step in this process. As a result of the straw polls, it appeared very clear that several of the candidates did not have sufficient support across all regional groups to become the next Director-General. We greatly appreciate that on the basis of these polls two candidates have withdrawn in order to assist the Council in moving toward a consensus-based recommendation of a single candidate to the Conference of the States Parties. We thank them for this very responsible action and hope that as the straw polls proceed, others will also take similar steps to facilitate consensus. We encourage you, Mr. Chairman, to continue to press delegations, capitals – and the candidates themselves – to take the decisions necessary to reach consensus and avoid a prolonged and divisive stalemate.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States supports the draft zero-nominal growth Program and Budget for 2010 as prepared by the Director-General, and we urge adoption of it this week so that it may be forwarded to the Conference in good time before its Fourteenth Session. We appreciate the hard work of our excellent co-facilitators Ambassador Francisco Aguilar of Costa Rica and Mr. Martin Strub of Switzerland during the inter-sessional period. Their series of consultations has been instrumental in bringing us all to the point where we can reach consensus on the Budget, which is balanced and will continue to fully meet all of the Organization’s core objectives efficiently and economically.

Mr. Chairman,

As Dr. Tom Hopkins outlined in his remarks yesterday during the destruction informals, the United States has now destroyed over 65 percent of its chemical weapons – almost two thirds. It is also worth noting that on October 6, the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency announced the safe destruction of its two millionth munition since entry-into-force of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Obama administration is fully committed to examine all possible options for accelerating Chemical Weapons destruction at the two non-incineration sites consistent with the Chemical Weapons Convention and its applicable safety, technical, and environmental requirements. The United States understands our obligations under the Convention, and we are fully committed to meeting the Convention’s objectives, including verified destruction of 100 percent of our stockpile as rapidly and as safely as possible. We are also committed to proactive disclosure of our Chemical Weapons destruction program, so that member states can evaluate our efforts for themselves.

Another of the obligations which we as member states agreed to fulfill when we joined the Convention is contained in Article VII of the Convention, which requires all member states to adopt the necessary measures to implement the Convention and for it to be fully enforced and effective within their territory.

Since the adoption of the Action Plan for Article VII in 2003, there has been a notable increase in the number of member states fully meeting their Article VII obligations, which we applaud. The work of the Technical Secretariat, as well as of member states, in providing encouragement, assistance and support to other member states has been an important factor in this increase. However, we realize that the work to fully implement Article VII is far from done, as evidenced in the Director-General’s annual report on Article VII implementation before us this week. In addition to considering this report, which has already been initiated under the facilitation of Mr. Rami Adwan of Lebanon, the Council is charged with forwarding it to the Conference along with any recommendations.

Rather than repeating decisions from previous years, this Council should provide fresh recommendations to address the current situation. These recommendations should include clear, constructive, and achievable measures to assist and encourage member states wherever they are in the process of implementing Article VII. The United States stands ready to provide support and assistance to any member states requiring it, whether they still need to establish their National Authority, or are in final stages of completing implementing regulations, or are reviewing the status and effectiveness of their existing legislation and regulations. We call on other member states to do the same. We share a collective interest in seeing each member of this Organization enact and implement comprehensive legislation and regulations. Whenever another member state does so, another gap is closed and our collective security is enhanced.

Mr. Chairman,

This is the last Council session before this year’s Conference. We have challenging work ahead of us this week, and we must do our utmost to reach decisions on the long list of items before us. I pledge my full support, as well as that of my delegation, for a productive and successful session of the Council.

I would like to request that this statement be circulated as an official document of the Fifty-Eighth Session of the Council.

Thank you.