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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
IRA decommissioning report: Key points
General John De Chastelain, head of the arms decommissioning body has given a statement and answered reporter's questions on the IRA's third act of weapons decommissioning. Here are the key points.

Main statement:

"The commission has witnessed a third event in which IRA weapons are put beyond use in accordance with the government scheme and regulations.

"The arms comprise light, medium and heavy ordinance and associated munitions.

"They include automatic weapons, ammunition, explosives and explosive material.

"The quantity of weapons involved was larger than the quantity put beyond use in the previous event."

Quantities of arms:

"We examined each and every arm and made an inventory of the explosive material. In previous reports I have used expressions such as significant and substantial. It has been pointed out to me that this can mean a number of things to a number of individuals.

"I do want to make the point - and that is why we have indicated this time - that the amount of arms put beyond use was larger - I would say considerably larger - than the previous event."

Types of arms:

Gen de Chastelain said he was not permitted to give details on the exact nature of what was put beyond use because the scheme set out by the governments permitted paramilitary organisations to request confidentiality.

But he said the terms he had used were standard military phraseology covering the range of what is light, medium or heavy.

This typically includes anything from automatic weapons, such as machine guns, through to rocket-propelled grenades and heavy mortars - although he stressed that he was neither confirming nor denying the type of weapons in his inventory.

"It included a wide range. I cannot be specific but what was dealt with was inclusive within the range. When we talk about semi or automatic weapons, we are essentially talking about machine guns."

Turning to "explosives and explosive material", the general said this was understood in military language to mean everything from plastic explosives through to timing devices and other detonation equipment.

Gen de Chastelain's assistant, Andrew Sens, added: "The material put beyond use this morning could have caused death or destruction on a huge scale had it been put to use."

Times, locations and method:

General de Chastelain said the event took "whatever time was necessary. It was a matter of hours and I'm talking about the time on the ground."

On location, he said the event "took place on the island of Ireland".

On method, the general said he was not permitted to talk about how the arms had been put beyond use - but he said the method fell within the remit of the scheme which required weapons to be rendered "inaccessible or inoperable".

Future meetings:

Gen de Chastelain said the IRA broke off contact with the arms commission last October and they had not formally reopened discussions until Tuesday 21 October.

"However, they did open a line of communication with us in April and indeed we had a line of communication open in this past week which led to this event.

"If you are asking me when exactly the next meeting will take place, I don't know. But we are maintaining contact with the [IRA] representative and they have said they wish to move at the earliest opportunity."

The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"The announcement of assembly elections wouldn't have been made without a deal"

IRA statement in full
21 Oct 03  |  Northern Ireland

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