Global Security Newswire – 2009-05-01 21:15:12
UNITED NATIONS (April 30, 2009) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called for the international community to redouble its efforts to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons (see GSN, April 25, 2008).
Ban issued his message on the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, which falls on the anniversary of the 1997 entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The pact prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, use or transfer of materials such as mustard blister agent and the nerve agents sarin and VX.
“Membership in the convention will increase to 188 states parties with the recent ratification of the commonwealth of the Bahamas,” Ban stated (see GSN, April 24). “Almost all of the states parties have now established their national authorities.
Today, under the provision of the Chemical Weapons Convention, India becomes the third possessor state to have completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles” (see GSN, April 27).
“This is welcome progress, but we cannot be complacent in the face of such a grave threat. Above all, we must bolster international efforts to prevent access to chemical weapons by terrorists or other nonstate actors. Governments, international organizations and the private sector must all join forces to translate the Convention’s provisions into action,” he added.
“The United Nations will continue to work together with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the international community to promote full implementation and universal adherence to the convention. In my capacity as depositary, I urge those states that have not yet ratified or acceded to the convention to do so as soon as possible.”
Chemical weapons were used at various times during the 20th century, notably during World War I and by Iraq’s Hussein regime in its war against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds (see GSN, April 14, 2008). At least two of the seven nations that remain outside the treaty, North Korea and Syria, are believed to maintain significant stocks of chemical warfare agents.
“On this Remembrance Day, let us honour the victims of chemical warfare by reaffirming our commitment to build a world where, in the words of the Convention, achievements in the field of chemistry are used exclusively for the benefit of mankind,” Ban said (U.N. release, April 29).
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