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NATO Panel Urges Nations To Eradicate All Chemical Arms

A key NATO panel on Sunday approved a draft text that urges Iraq, Russia and the United States to eradicate their chemical warfare materials in a safe and secure manner, the ACTMedia News Agency reported (see GSN, Oct. 4).

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly Science and Technology Committee in Bucharest dismissed an effort by Russia to substitute the call for the three nations to complete chemical demilitarization operations "in due time" with the word "soon."

Russia and the United States have announced they do not expect to meet an extended deadline of April 2012 set by the Chemical Weapons Convention to completely destroy their chemical weapons. Iraq also has a small cache of Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons that it has yet to begin eliminating.

The NATO panel chose to keep its original wording on the thinking that Russia and the United States, as the holders of the world's two largest chemical arsenals, should act as positive role models to other nations in the elimination of their stockpiles.

"We are running late and we need to give an example," said the committee's vice chairman and author of the resolution, U.S. Representative David Scott (D-Ga.). "We need to act seriously."

The resolution additionally urges all nations to notify the international community of any secret arsenals of biological and chemical warfare agents and to halt such military efforts.

The committee also pressed NATO members to implement steps to thwart potential biological and chemical terrorist strikes (ACTMedia News Agency, Oct. 10).

"Terrorists have ... largely failed to weaponize biological and chemical agents," the draft resolution reads. "Nevertheless, measures to counter biological and chemical threats still have to cope with numerous issues to become truly effective tools of arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation."

As general rapporteur of the resolution, Scott said he hoped to see a robust discussion by the NATO committee on best practices for thwarting chemical and biological attacks. The Georgian lawmaker also said he hoped to see the NATO Parliamentary Assembly take up the issue at its annual meeting in Bucharest (NATO Parliamentary Assembly report, Sept. 22).

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