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India calls for vigilance against terrorists acquiring chemical, biological weapons

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United Nations:  Indian authorities are startled by the potential threat of terrorists and non-state actors acquiring chemical or biological weapons,calling upon international authorities to be alert.

“The international community should continue to be vigilant on non-state actors and terrorist groups seeking or using chemical weapons,” India’s delegate Abhishek Banerjee told the General Assembly committee on disarmament Thursday.

Citing “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,” Banerjee said India wanted the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) strengthened.

An All India Trinamool Congress member of the Lok Sabha representing Diamond Harbour in West Bengal, Banerjee is one of the five members of parliament from the ruling and opposition parties who have been deputed to India’s delegation to the UN.

Banerjee proclaimed the two conventions against chemical and biological weapons as exemplars of non-discriminatory treaties in the field of disarmament and said they can be “a model for the future elimination of the other type of weapons of mass destruction-nuclear weapons.”

Unlike the other two treaties, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows a select group of nuclear weapon states that also happen to be permanent members of the Security Council to possess and develop nuclear weapons while banning them for the rest. This makes the elimination of nuclear arms impossible. India has not signed the treaty citing these two factors.

Banerjee noted that India had destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2009 and had contributed to the efforts of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to eliminate Syria’s chemical armaments.

The Chemical Weapons Convention should not be implemented in a manner that hinders legitimate activities, especially in countries like India with a large and growing chemical industry, he added.

(IANS)

 

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Russia, Iran, Syria warn the United States against launching new strikes on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people were still not clear

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U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria, VOA

Syria, April 15, 2017: Russia, Syria and Iran have warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an international investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

The foreign ministers from Russia, Syria and Iran, meeting Friday in Moscow, said any further unilateral action by the U.S. in Syria would be met with “grave consequences” and pose a danger to the entire world.

The U.S. fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s al-Shayrat air base last week in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria days earlier.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people were still not clear.

He criticized the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for not sending experts to the site of the attack to investigate.

“We consider it unacceptable to analyze events from a distance,” he said. Lavrov said the investigation should also be widened to include experts from many nations.

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Russia has rejected accusations from Western countries that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack. Russia has alleged that the victims were killed when Syrian warplanes hit a rebel chemical arsenal. The U.S. accuses Assad of deliberately launching the attack.

“The use of chemical weapons as a pretext for violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent state — a member of the United Nations — is a very dangerous activity,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. “It is essential to prevent such acts as the events in Khan Sheikhoun in [the] future.”

Lavrov said the U.S. missile strike on Syria was Washington seeking “excuses for regime change.” He added, “These attempts will not succeed, this will not happen.”

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Lavrov met Friday with his counterparts from Syria and Iran after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Moscow earlier this week. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Friday’s meeting sent a “strong message” to Washington.

Russia and Iran are strong allies of Assad’s government and have backed the president during Syria’s six-year civil war. (VOA)