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Syria officially becomes OPCW member Monday

The Hague, Oct 14 : Beginning Monday, Syria officially becomes a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


The OPCW's basic document - the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, also known as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), for short - will now apply to the strife-torn nation.

For several years, the OPCW has been calling on Syrian authorities to join the regime to control chemical weapons but until recently there was no official response.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu confirmed Sep 13 this year the receipt of an application from Syria for accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Syria becomes the 190th member-state of the OPCW. The signatory countries account for almost 98 percent of the world's population.

At present only six countries still remain outside the convention. Two of them - Israel and Myanmar - way back in 1993 signed the CWC, thereby expressing their political support for its goals and principles.

Only Angola, Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan have taken no action in this regard.

OPCW sources emphasised that Syria joined it under special conditions. The period that had passed from the moment of the filing of the application to the country's presentation of information on its chemical weapons stocks, was only seven days and the complete accession process took only a month, although usually the procedure takes a much longer term.

On the intervening night of Sep 27-28, the OPCW executive council approved a plan for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.

Following that, the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution No.2,118 in support of the plan for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. All 15 countries of the UNSC voted for the document.

The plan envisages completion of the destruction of the production equipment at Syrian facilities by Nov 1 and the stocks of chemical weapons in Syria will be finally eliminated by the middle of next year.

OPCW experts and the director-general have pointed out a constructive beginning of the mission in Syria Since Oct 1 and the readiness for cooperation by the country's authorities.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Oct 11 that the OPCW was the winner of the this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

At a news conference held the same day, OPCW Director-General Uzumcu expressed hope that the award bestowed upon the organization would inspire the non-member countries to join the organisation.

The CWC is the first multilateral treaty which not only bans one whole type of weapons of mass destruction but also provides the machinery for the checking of military and civilian chemical facilities.

According to OPCW data, as of July 2013, a total of of 57,740 metric tonnes, or 81.1 percent of the world's announced stocks of chemical weapons, had been destroyed.

--IANS (Posted on 14-10-2013)

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