Since the previous session of this Committee, we have had the chance to take stock of both the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions through their Review Conferences.
The challenges posed by biological threats underscore the urgency of reinforcing the BWC and ensuring its relevance in the 21st century. We therefore welcome the decision by States Parties last December to agree on an ambitious working program for the intersessional period. This provides an opportunity to define practical ways to increase international cooperation and assistance and to revisit the issue of verification and compliance - in tandem with scientific and technological developments. This work will require strong partnerships with civil society, the private sector, scientific communities, and other stakeholders. We encourage all Member States to contribute to fruitful and constructive discussions in the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention in the coming years.
In May, we regrettably failed to reach consensus during the Fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We remain concerned by Russian and Syrian attempts at undermining cooperation in the CWC.
This summer marked a watershed in the history of the OPCW and in global disarmament efforts. The destruction of all declared chemical weapons in the world was completed. This does not mean, however, that the OPCW, or we as States Parties can rest on our laurels. Undeclared chemical weapons still exist, and the repeated use of such weapons has been explicitly documented in recent years.
The OPCW and the UN have together attributed nine cases of use of chemical weapons to Syrian authorities and two cases to the so-called Islamic State. We remain deeply concerned about the continued failure of the Syrian Arab Republic to close the 20 outstanding issues from its initial declaration on its chemical weapons programme.
We continue to urge the Russian Federation to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of Mr. Alexei Navalny, share the findings of the investigation with states parties to the CWC and bring those responsible to justice.
Norway remains steadfastly confident in the work of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW and its Director General. We firmly reject any efforts to discredit their important work.
Let me underline the importance of upholding the independence of the UN Secretary General’s Mechanism for the investigation of alleged uses of chemical, biological or toxin weapons. Its impartiality and independence are essential. The Secretary General has ample opportunity to update the guidelines for the mechanism, should he see the need. Norway therefore sees no reason for member states to initiate an update procedure. We would further underscore the need to properly resource, equip and operationalize the mechanism.
I wish to highlight Security Council Resolution 1540 and the central role it plays in preventing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery, and related materials, falling into the hands of non-state actors, including terrorists. The 2022 renewal of the mandate was a welcome example of Council consensus on non-proliferation issues. We must continue to promote its effective implementation if we are to tackle the threat posed by non-state actors.
Let me underscore the importance of effective and transparent export controls. Norway supports The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Zangger Committee, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Multilateral and national export control regimes are essential in ensuring that transfers of equipment, materials and technologies are for their intended peaceful uses.
Finally, Norway welcomes US' initiative on a prohibition on the use of radiological weapons.