India Calls for Global Action Against Chemical Weapons

United Nations: India voiced deep concern over terror groups acquiring chemical weapons, asserting that the international community must take urgent measures and decisive actions to prevent possibility of any future use of such weapons.

“It has been our consistent position that the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at anytime by anybody under any circumstances cannot be justified and the perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable,” Ambassador D B Venkatesh Varma, Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva said at a debate on weapons of mass destruction on Wednesday.

He said India is “deeply concerned with reports of acquisitions of chemical weapons and their delivery system by terrorist groups and continuing use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals in Syria and Iraq by terrorists.

“We believe that the international community must take urgent measures and decisive actions to prevent the possibility of any future use of chemical weapons,” he said at the First Committee session of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Varma said India has a large and growing chemical industry and also has the second largest number of declared facilities and receives among the largest number of inspections from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

He underscored that India has a “flawless track record” of verification inspections and believes that the OPCW needs to evolve transparent and objective criteria and modalities for inspections.

“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.

Varma told the committee, which deals with disarmament and international security, that India has strong and law-based national export controls consistent with the highest international standards with reference to control of nuclear, chemical, biological and toxin weapons and their means of delivery.

India contributed to international efforts under UN and the OPCW for destruction of Syrian chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) and welcomed the progress made so far in their destruction.
“We would encourage further consultations between Syria and the OPCW with an aim to fully resolve all the outstanding issues in the spirit of trust and cooperation,” he said.

He reiterated India’s commitment to improving the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention and strengthening its implementation and its universalisation.

Varma also added that India shares the widespread interest amongst States Parties to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the implementation of the Convention through the negotiation and conclusion of a Protocol for that purpose.

“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.

India is also actively participating in the preparatory process among States Parties leading to the Eighth Review Conference to be held in November 2016.