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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 18:45 GMT
First De Chastelain report in full

General de Chastelain General de Chastelain: 31 January report now published

The UK Government has published the report by the head of the arms decommissioning body, General John de Chastelain, which he delivered to the British and Irish governments on 31 January. This is the full text of that report.

"In our report of 10 December, the Commission undertook to report further on decommissioning in January. This is that report.

"Since December, the Commission has held further discussions with representatives of the IRA, the UVF and the UFF.

"Our previous report stated our belief that the results of the Mitchell review and the designation of IRA and UFF contacts in addition to the UVF contact already in place, gave the basis for an assessment that decommissioning will happen.

"While we believe that conclusion was well founded, we await further evidence to substantiate it.

"The IRA contact has assured us of the unequivocal continuing support of his organisation for the current political process.

"We have been made aware of, and recognise, the difficulties facing the IRA leadership in moving on decommissioning at this time.

"We are also conscious that the maintenance of their ceasefire, and those of the UVF and UFF, have played and continue to play, an important part in the political advances that have been achieved to date and that are progressing.

"Further our contact has very recently emphasized that there is no threat to the peace process from the IRA.

"All of these factors are significant. But our sole task is decommissioning and to date we have received no information from the IRA as to when decommissioning will start.

"In our most recent discussion with the UVF contact, he reminded us of the discussions he held with the Commission over a long period, including the UVF's early engagement on the issue of modalities.

"He has also reiterated the UVF stance that while it is prepared to consider moving on decommissioning, it will not do so until it has received an unequivocal statement from the IRA that the war is over.

"Similarly, our most recent discussion with representatives of the UFF has confirmed their position stated during our earlier meeting, to the effect that while that group too is prepared to consider moving on decommissioning, it will not do so until it is clear that the IRA will also decommission.

"We will continue our efforts to carry out the Commission's role in the manner and within the time-frame approved by the political parties and the two governments.

"However, given our understanding of the quantity of arms held by the paramilitary groups, and the dispersed nature of their locations, we believe a time will soon be reached beyond which it will be logistically impossible for us to complete our task by 22 May.

"We remain prepared to state, at an appropriate date, when we believe decommissioning must start and how it must proceed if our mandate is to be fulfilled within the required period.

"But decommissioning is a voluntary act; any schedule we produce will only be of value if those who have the arms agree to follow it.

"The foregoing noted, intensive negotiations have taken place during the past few days. The Commission will report further to the governments in the event that ongoing negotiations lead to concrete results.

"If it becomes clear to us that decommissioning is not to happen, the Commission will recommend to the governments that it be disbanded."

SIGNED: Tauno Nieminen, John de Chastelain, Andrew D. Sens

Belfast 31 January 2000
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