China on Tuesday reiterated its commitment to implementing the treaty banning chemical weapons worldwide and called on countries concerned to dispose of all chemical weapons by the 2012 deadline.
The calls were made by Xue Hanqin, China's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), during the annual meeting of the signatory states of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in the Hague on Tuesday.
The treaty has been pivotal in banning and destroying chemical weapons and in preventing their proliferation since its entry into force from April 29, 1997, said Xue, who is also Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands. She added that China is always committed to the purpose and principles of the convention and has honored its obligations.
China attaches great importance to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and has adopted an export control regime, which is strictly enforced, she said.
Noting that the timely and complete destruction of chemical weapons is the fundamental goal set by the CWC, Xue expressed her regret at some nations delaying their destruction activities.
"China believes that the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles in line with the timetable is a matter that has some bearing on the authority and credibility of the CWC," she said.
"The possessor states should ... speed up their destruction process and make sure that all their chemical weapons are destroyed before the deadline expires," the Chinese envoy said.
According to the CWC, signatory states should destroy all their chemical weapons by April 29, 2007. If there is difficulty in meeting the requirement, the deadline could be extended only once, by five years.
Five of the six countries, including such major possessors of chemical weapons as the US and Russia, have asked to extend the deadline to April 29, 2012. Whether or not to grant them the extension will be one of the key topics at the annual meeting of the signatories.
Xue called for enhanced international cooperation in the chemical field, saying it could play a positive role in promoting regular trade among signatories.
Xue also urged Japan to ramp up its effort and speed up the disposal of chemical weapons abandoned in China during the World War II, as they pose grave threats to both the security of human lives and the ecological environment.
Despite some positive progress in the disposal of such abandoned weapons thanks to bilateral cooperation, "the substantive destruction process is yet to start," she said.
The CWC is an international disarmament treaty which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons. It currently has 181 signatory countries, accounting for around 98 percent of the global population.
The OPCW, based in the Hague, is mandated to oversee the implementation of the chemical weapons treaty.
In the past nine years, 22 percent of the world's declared stockpile of chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed, with 57 out of 65 declared chemical weapons production facilities have been either destroyed or converted into peaceful use.
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2006)