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U.N. Chief Presses Nations to Join Chemical Weapons Convention

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has joined a top international arms control official in formally urging eight remaining holdout states to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations said on Monday.

Ban and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Üzümcü sent letters to the heads of state of Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. The messages urge the leaders to "without delay" bring their states into the international ban on mustard gas and other chemical warfare materials.

The 1997 accord now has 188 member nations.

"The continuing growth in the membership of the (OPCW) … is evidence that the prohibition against the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons constitutes a universal norm," Ban and Üzümcü were quoted as stating by a press release from The Hague, Netherlands-based organization that monitors adherence to the pact.

"If a world free of chemical weapons is to be fully realized, it is crucial that these eight states join without delay," Ban stated in a message delivered on Monday at a meeting of member nations to the convention.

The U.N. chief noted that 78 percent of declared chemical stocks around the world have been eliminated to date. Albania, India and South Korea have finished off their arsenals under OPCW watch, while efforts continue in member states Iraq, Libya, Russia and the United States.

One nation that has yet to join the accord, Syria, is widely accepted to possess hundreds of tons of chemical agents, along with missiles and other delivery devices.

 

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