‘Need to be vigilant on chemical weapons’

United Nations: India has asked the international community to be vigilant on non-state actors and terrorist groups seeking and using chemical and biological weapons. “The use of chemical weapons anywhere and by anyone must be condemned and the international norm against the use of chemical weapons must not be breached,” visiting Member of Parliament Abhishek Banerjee said at a debate on weapons of mass destruction at the First Committee of the┬áGeneral Assembly here yesterday. He said India contributed to international efforts under the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapon stockpiles.

“The international community should continue to be vigilant on non-state actors and terrorist groups seeking or using chemical weapons,” he added. Given that disarmament is a primary goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the remaining possessor States should fulfil their obligations within the shortest possible time. India completed the destruction of its chemical weapon stockpiles in 2009 within the stipulated time-frame under the CWC. The provisions of the Convention should be implemented in a manner that does not hinder legitimate activities, especially in countries like India with a large and growing chemical industry, he said adding that universality is fundamental to the success of the Convention.

He voiced India’s commitment to improving the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and strengthening its implementation and its universalising. “We believe this is necessary in view of the new challenges to international peace and security emanating from proliferation trends, including the threat posed by terrorists or other non-state actors seeking access to biological agents or toxins for terrorist purposes,” he said. He also supported a robust consultation process among all States Parties leading to the Eighth Review Conference next year, so as to contribute to its success through preparations on substantive and procedural issues. He reiterated India’s commitment to maintaining the highest international standards with reference to control of nuclear, chemical, biological and toxin weapons and their means of delivery. “In this regard, India has made considerable progress in its engagement with the relevant multilateral export control regimes with a view to seeking full membership,” he said.

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