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Chemical Weapons Treaty Universal Adherence Urged

Annan urges universal adherence to chemical weapons treaty

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan today urged the three dozen countries outside the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to sign and ratify the treaty as part of the international effort to head off terrorism.

"The international community remains deeply concerned about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and is actively engaged in the work to counter this threat. The Chemical Weapons Convention, fully and effectively implemented, can be a powerful instrument in that work," Mr. Annan said in a message to the eighth session of the Conference of States Parties to the CWC in The Hague.

"I urge those States that have not ratified or acceded to the CWC to do so without delay," he added.

Less than seven years after the convention entered into force, 156 governments have ratified it, he said, but "almost 40 States remain outside the convention - some of them from regions that would benefit greatly from the assurances which membership in the Convention would bring."

The 37 states that have not signed the treaty, or have signed but not ratified, included some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, some small nations of the Caribbean and Pacific and about a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Annan said he welcomed the progress being made in destroying chemical weapons, as reported to the first review conference earlier this year, and hoped the momentum would be maintained.

By May 2002, a total of nearly 7,000 tons of chemical agents and more than 2 million munitions and containers had already been destroyed, the official CWC web site said.

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