Arab states urged to destroy chemical weapons

Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq still to sign up to Chemical Weapons Convention.

Nations including Syria, Iraq and Israel should join a landmark pact for destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons as they serve hardly any security or strategic purpose, a watchdog agency said on Friday.

Rogelio Pfirter, director-general at the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), made the appeal ahead of a review conference next week.

So far 183 countries have ratified the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention banning the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons but the OPCW wants more states to join up.

"Chemical weapons basically terrorise civilians, they are of relatively little security or strategic use these days," Pfirter told newswire Reuters in an interview.

"It is hard to see how these weapons can make any contribution to peace."

Israel, Myanmar, Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Guinea-Bissau have signed up to the treaty but have not ratified it, the watchdog said. Iraq, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia, Lebanon and Angola have shunned it.

Regional conflict and internal problems are among the major obstacles to these countries becoming members to the convention, said Pfirter.

"We hope these countries, irrespective of the fact they have a crisis there, will realise they should join," he said.

He said officials from some of those countries will attend next week's review conference.

"We take it as a very good sign of continued interest in the convention," he added.

Since it signed up to the treaty, Russia has destroyed nearly a quarter of its stockpile and the US close to 50%. The two countries have an extended 2012 deadline to destroy the rest of their stockpiles.

Asked if the two countries can meet their deadline, Pfirter said: "At this stage, it would be very premature to speculate one way or other. One should continue to expect they will do anything possible to continue destruction of their stockpiles."

Libya, a signatory to the pact since 2004 after it started emerging from international isolation by agreeing to halt its weapons programmes, is expected to destroy its entire stockpile by 2011. (Reuters)

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudi Arabia spends money to make money

Saudi Arabia spends money to make money

Tour of Asia by Saudi Arabia's King Salman advances drive to...

Where is Bahrain headed?

Where is Bahrain headed?

The kingdom has identified jewels in its accelerating non-oil...

Trump, Saudi Arabia in mutual embrace

Trump, Saudi Arabia in mutual embrace

US President Donald Trump may not be popular in much of the Muslim...

Most Discussed