UNITED NATIONS * Syria took the first step Thursday toward
joining the Chemical Weapons Convention after its most important
ally, Russia, convinced Damascus to accept a U.S. offer to destroy
its chemical stockpiles and avoid the threat of U.N. military
U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday that the
documents submitted to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by Syria were
still being reviewed to determine whether President Bashar Assad's
government had provided enough information. If not, it could be
asked for additional material. When the secretary-general is
satisfied, the so-called "instrument of accession" will be deposited
at the United Nations and Syria will become a party to the
convention 30 days later.
What is the chemical weapons convention?
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production,
Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction
aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
It prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling,
retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by countries that are
parties to the convention. These countries, in turn, are required to
enforce the prohibitions on their territory.
How did the convention come about
Talks about a convention banning chemical weapons began in 1968.
The Conference on Disarmament, the world's only multilateral forum
for negotiating multilateral arms control and disarmament
agreements, submitted the text of the Chemical Weapons Convention to
the U.N. General Assembly in September 1992. The assembly approved
the convention on Nov. 30, 1992, and the convention was opened for
signature on Jan. 13, 1993. It entered into force on April 29, 1997,
following ratification by 65 countries. The convention expands on
the Geneva Protocol of 1925 for chemical weapons and includes
extensive verification measures.
Who is party to the convention and who is not?
At present, 189 countries are parties to Chemical Weapons
Convention. There are seven countries that are not parties to the
convention. Israel and Myanmar both signed the convention in 1993
but have not taken the next step to become a party. Angola, North
Korea, Egypt, Somalia and until Thursday, Syria, have taken no steps
to join the convention.
What happens when Syria joins the convention?
Under Article 3 of the convention, once a country becomes a party
to the convention it must submit a number of declarations to the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as the
OPCW, "no later than 30 days" after it becomes a full member. …