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U.N. Chief Urges All States to Join Chemical Weapons Convention

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called for all nations to join the international treaty that bans the development, production and use of chemical weapons (see GSN, Dec. 4, 2009).

"Full implementation of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention and achieving universal membership remain significant challenges," Ban said on the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare. " I urge the states that have not yet become parties to do so without further delay."

Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the pact, while Angola, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia and Syria have neither signed nor ratified the agreement.

Ban touted several of the convention's achievements, which at the end of March included disposal of 58 percent of the planet's declared chemical warfare materials, the destruction or repurposing for nonmilitary uses of nearly 90 percent of all chemical weapons manufacturing sites, and the total disarmament of banned arsenals by three member states -- Albania, India and a state that is never formally identified but is assumed to be South Korea (see GSN, April 27, 2009).

However, the U.N. chief warned that scientific and technological advancements could be used to simplify the process of chemical weapons production.

"There is also the risk that nonstate actors will acquire such weapons," he said. "Additional collective efforts will be essential in achieving progress on each of the key areas covered by the convention: disarmament, nonproliferation, international cooperation, assistance and protection."

"On this annual observance, let us honor the victims of chemical warfare by reaffirming our commitment to strengthening the convention," Ban said (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons release, April 29).

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