Cablegate: Chemical Weapons Convention (Cwc): Ec-37

Published: Tue 6 Jul 2004 04:36 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. STATE 136811 (NOTAL)
B. STATE 132224 (NOTAL)
This is CWC-84-04.
1. (SBU) Summary: During EC-37, the U.S., UK, Italian and
Libyan dels cooperated closely in actively educating and
seeking support from other EC members regarding the proposed
technical change that would permit Libya to seek conversion
of chemical weapons production facilities (CWPF). Without
exception delegations contacted expressed support for Libya's
objective of converting Rabta and many agreed that a
technical change appeared the most appropriate way to address
this issue, but most said that further consideration would be
needed in capitals. France emerged as the primary obstacle
to achieving consensus on the joint proposal, actively
shopping alternative text to other dels. Though the French
proposal is unlikely to gain any real support, France's
actions will likely feed into reservations held by some dels
about the joint approach, especially among WEOG members,
complicating efforts to achieve consensus. The U.S., UK,
Italian and Libyan dels agreed, in principle, to move ahead
with submitting the formal proposal to the OPCW in mid-July,
and discussed modifying the original text to include a clear
time limit for completion of conversions to address a common
concern among EC members. End summary.
2. (SBU) During the Thirty-Seventh Session of the OPCW
Executive Council (EC) meeting (June 29-July 2), the U.S.,
UK, Italian and Libyan dels cooperated closely in actively
educating and seeking support from other EC members regarding
the proposed technical change to the CWC Verification Annex
that would permit Libya (and future states) to seek
conversion of chemical weapons production facilities (CWPF).
The four delegations were able to meet, individually or in
small groups, with a large proportion of the EC members.
Most dels expressed support for Libyan conversion of the
Rabta facility and viewed pursuing a technical change as a
reasonable approach, but indicated that this issue would need
further consideration in capitals, particularly on the legal
aspects of the proposed approach.
3. (SBU) The Libyan delegation, backed by members of the
Africa Group, took an active public role in seeking support
for the proposal, especially among developing countries, to
head-off concerns that this would be perceived as essentially
a U.S./WEOG initiative. The Libyan Ambassador, delivered a
strong statement on the floor of the EC, seeking support for
the proposal, followed by positive interventions from
Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan.
4. (SBU) France has emerged in a very prominent manner as the
main obstacle to achieving consensus in the OPCW on the
proposed technical change. The French support pursuing a
technical change to permit Libyan conversion, but strongly
object to the proposed text. France rejects the involvement
of the EC and CSP in taking decisions on a "case-by-case"
basis regarding the deadlines for submitting requests and
completing conversion, arguing that this would lead to
"unequal treatment." Members of the French delegation were
unable to engage in a reasoned discussion of the specific
elements of the proposed text.
5. (SBU) The French del rejected as insufficient an offer to
establish a clear time limit for completion of conversion and
proceeded to actively shop an alternative proposal whereby
the deadline for completing conversion would be extended from
2003 to 2009. When confronted by the U.S. and others with
the clear deficiencies of its proposal (e.g., would require
future technical change, treat future States Parties
unequally, and, as written, also extend the deadline for
Russia), members of the French del indicated revisions could
be made, but offered no alternative text by week's end. The
French Ambassador made a rare appearance on the last day of
the EC to make a statement on the floor that France supported
pursuing a technical change but stressed that the proposed
approach did not meet the requirement to be "predictable and
non-discriminatory." (Comment: This statement was likely in
response to the well-received Libyan statement the previous
day, along with the Tunisian del confronting the French del
about its opposition.) While the French proposal is certain
to garner little support, its efforts to lobby other dels
will complicate efforts to achieve consensus on this issue,
especially among WEOG members, many of who either share some
concerns about a "case-by-case" approach, or would be
reluctant to isolate France. France will apparently seek to
raise this issue in the EU, but the UK and the Netherlands,
which has just taken over the EU Presidency, will seek to
block France in this regard.
6. (SBU) See below for summary of reactions from selected
--Other WEOG: While WEOG reactions were generally positive
regarding pursuing a technical change to permit Libyan
conversion, several dels expressed uneasiness with the
specific proposal. The German del, upon instruction from
Berlin, continued to question the need for a technical
change, raising the option of an EC decision that interpreted
away the problem. Germany also voiced concern about the
absence of a firm time limit for completing conversion, and
indicated that Berlin would need to see the details of the
Libyan conversion request in order to address long-standing
sensitivities related to past German CW-related transfers to
Libya before taking a decision. After extensive discussions,
the German del appeared to take on board arguments in favor
of pursuing a technical change, as well as the proposed text,
and indicated they would be willing to talk to the French.
The Spanish rep, unconvinced by arguments related to security
concerns and ensuring accountability, expressed concern with
a "case-by-case" approach, and instead favored a simpler
change with clear, predictable parameters (e.g., time
limits). Echoing the Spanish, the Swiss and Canadian dels
also favored a simpler approach that established a firm time
limit for completing conversion, though the latter appeared
to recognize the need to ensure new States Parties convert in
a timely manner. The Dutch Ambassador expressed strong
support for our proposed approach and a clear understanding
of the underlying reasons for it.
--ASIA: A Japanese official from the MFA expressed political
support for permitting Libyan conversion, but indicated
officials in Tokyo would need to evaluate the legal basis for
pursuing the proposed technical change. South Korea
supported the proposal, in principle, and that, with North
Korea clearly in mind, the proposed technical change appeared
to be the best alternative. Members of the Indian del from
capital expressed general support for the concept but
indicated that they would need to examine the legal question,
and also wanted to see further details about the proposed
conversion. Malaysia, which currently holds chairmanship of
the NAM, offered public support for permitting Libyan
conversion, but privately expressed concern about the
proposal being perceived as a U.S./WEOG-led initiative, and
encouraged the Libyans to take a more prominent role in
seeking support among developing countries. The Iranian del
informed the UK that it supported, in principle, Libyan
conversion, but would have to defer to Tehran, particularly
on the legality of the proposal.
--AFRICA: While Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco and Algeria offered
firm support, the South African del initially appeared to
waiver on the issue of co-sponsoring the proposal, expressing
the desire for more participation from other regions.
However, the South African Ambassador, Priscilla Jana,
subsequently clarified their position and unambiguously
confirmed their support, only expressing a desire for some
Asian or Latin American co-sponsorship. (Note: Italy and
the UK indicated that Rabat had agreed to co-sponsor the
proposal, to go along with Tunis and Pretoria.)
--EASTERN EUROPE: The Russian del expressed cautious support
for permitting Libya to convert Rabta, noting its significant
experience in this area, but indicated that Moscow would have
to closely evaluate the proposal, particularly from a legal
standpoint. The Czech, Slovakian, and Ukrainian dels all
indicated they did not see any problems with the proposal,
but would have to await instructions from capitals.
(Comment: The UK indicated that Kiev had offered to
co-sponsor the proposal.) Poland, which is not currently an
EC member, offered its full support.
--GRULAC: According to the UK, Peru, which currently chairs
the EC, has offered to co-sponsor the proposal and seek
support among other GRULAC members. There are also
unconfirmed reports that Panama has also offered to be a
co-sponsor. In a strange turn, the UK del also indicated
that the Argentine Ambassador may have concerns with the
proposed text and may propose alternative text. The UK
recommended the U.S. approach Buenos Aires, as appropriate,
to cut-off opposition.
7. (SBU) Next steps: The U.S., UK, Italian, and Libyan dels
agreed, in principle to take the following steps in the
coming weeks:
-- Propose to capitals that the text for the technical change
be modified to include a clear time limit for the completion
of conversion, in order to address concerns raised by many
delegations and further isolate France;
-- Continue to approach other EC members seeking support,
with Libya taking the lead among developing countries, and
including seeking a select number of additional co-sponsors
from the Asia, East Europe and GRULAC groups.
-- Demarche Paris regarding the latest version of the
proposed technical change, encouraging them to support this
approach, but in any case indicate readiness to further
discuss the issue; and
-- Finalize and submit the proposal package to the OPCW
Director-General the week of July 12, consisting of (1) a
transmission letter from the Libyan del, signed by all
co-sponsors, (2) the text of the proposed technical change,
and (3) supporting information (drafted by U.S.), to be
cleared in the four capitals and offered by Libya.
8. (U) Javits sends.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media