By Arul Louis
United Nations: India has warned against chemical weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists noting the reports of the resurgence of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria.
“India remains concerned about the possibility of such dangerous weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist organisation and individuals,” R. Ravindra, a Deputy Permanent Representative of India, told the Security Council on Wednesday.
“Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the decade-long conflict in Syria to entrench themselves posing a threat to the entire region. Reports of the resurgence of the IS in the region are being heard with increasing frequency,” he said after the Council heard a briefing on the implementation of its resolution against chemical weapons in that country.
That Resolution adopted in 2013 expressly demanded that “non-State actors” or terror groups “not develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer, or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery”.
Ravindra said: “The world cannot afford to give these terrorists any sanctuary or dilute its fights against these terrorist groups.”
The UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, who briefed the Council on the implementation of its resolution, alleged that Syria was not fully in compliance with it.
“At this stage, due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies that remain unresolved, the declaration submitted by the Syrian Arab Republic cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” she said.
She said that there were 19 outstanding issues and one of them was about a chemical weapons production facility that a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) determined had been used to manufacture such weapons although Damascus has denied such use.
The issue of chemical weapons in Syria has pitted Russia, with some backing from China, against the Western nations which are vehemently opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad.
With New Delhi in the middle, Ravindra said: “India has consistently underlined the need for impartial and objective investigation into any alleged use of chemical weapons, scrupulously following the procedures and provisions laid down in the (Chemical Weapons) Convention.”
New Delhi also has close ties with Syria.
“India has consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue,” Ravindra said.
India has “contributed to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria through humanitarian assistance and human resource development” and was now ready to provide it with Covid-19 vaccines, he said.
As for the CWC, Ravindra said India attaches high importance to it.
He said it “is a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument and serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction”.
He added that India was the first country to be declared the first signatory to the CWC to be declared a chemical weapon-free state.
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