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Statement by the Chinese Delegation before the 3rd Session of the Group of Governmental Experts to CCW on Self-Destruction and Self-Deactivation of Sub-munitions (December 3, 2002, Geneva)

Mr. Chairman,

To prevent and reduce ERWs, some countries have put forward proposals on installing self-destruction (SD) and self-deactivation (SDA) devices to sub-munitions.  The Chinese delegation has already elaborated on this issue.  After analysis of the feasibility of such proposals, the Chinese experts have the following views.

First, judging from the inherent feature of munitions, installing SD and SDA devices to sub-munitions is restricted by their size.  It is relatively easier to install such devices to big caliber missiles than to artillery shells.  Big caliber missiles are lightly overloaded and have enough space for SD and SDA devices.  While artillery shells, whose fuse is relatively small in size, are usually overloaded by 15,000G, making it technically difficult to add SD and SDA devices.  We can imagine the technical difficulty to install SD and SDA devices to sub-munitions whose size is even smaller than the aforementioned two types of munitions.

Second, considering the existing SD and SDA technologies, many countries will encounter a technical and financial dilemma in adding SD and SDA devices to sub-munitions.  Munitions are usually self-destructed through the absence of environmental energy, powder, mechanical timer, electric timer, low voltage, etc.  Munitions are usually self-deactivated by discharging or the resistance of fuse before the munitions are fired as designed.  The above-mentioned methods have their respective features and applications, but none of them is perfect.

Environmental energy self-destruction is seldom used today due to its complex structure and high requirements for environment.  Powder self-destruction, though simply structured, is easy to be dampened, therefore, the reliability can not be guaranteed after long storage.  The application of this method has decreased. Mechanical timer self-destruction, though reliable and good for long storage, is usually large in size.  This device is restricted by the size of the munitions and has not yet been applied to sub-munitions.  Even if it is applied to sub-munitions in the future, the cost will be relatively high.  As far as China is concerned, the cost of installing such device to one unit of sub-munitions exceeds 70 RMB under the condition of mass production.  Electric timer self-destruction is the widest applied device so far, but it is a challenging technology for developing countries.  This device requires batteries that can stand heavy-load and long-term storage, electric components and spare parts and production basis, electric circuit technology and electromagnetic compatibility technology, etc.  Besides, electric timer self-destruction device can not be stored as long as mechanical timer self-destruction device.  Its reliability begins to decrease after 5 years and decreases significantly after 10 years.  Therefore, this device requires more frequent replacements, adding financial burden to countries concerned.

Third, adding SD and SDA devices is only one way to reduce ERWs.  The fundamental way is to improve the reliability of munitions.

In a nutshell, the financial burden of installing SD and SDA devices to munitions is related to the technical level, quantity of production and other factors.  It might be feasible for countries with advanced technology, strong design capability, good processing equipment and economic strength.  But it is financially unaffordable and technically difficult for developing countries with backward technology and craftsmanship and weak economic conditions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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