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Syria officially becomes member of OPCW on Monday

October 14, 2013, 3:48 UTC+3

For several years, the OPCW has been calling on Syrian authorities to join the CWC but until recently thrre was no official response

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THE HAGUE, October 14 (Itar-Tass) - Beginning from Monday, Syria officially becomes a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Organization's basic document -- the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destructions, also known as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), for short -- will apply to it.

For several years, the OPCW has been calling on Syrian authorities to join the CWC but until recently thrre was no official response. On September 13, this year, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu confirmed the receit of an application from the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) for accession to the CWC.

Syria becoms a 190th member-state of the OPCW. At present only six countries still remain outside the Convention. Two of them -- Israel and Myanmar -- way back in 1993 signed the CWC, thereby expressing their political support for its goals and principles. Only Angola, Egypt, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and South Sudan have taken no actions as regards the Convention.

OPCW sources emphasize that Syria joined it in special conditions. The period that had passed from the moment of the filing of the applicationt to the country's presentation of information on its stocks, was only seven days and complete accession process took only a month, although usually the procedure presupposes a much longer term.

On the night from September 27 to 28, the OPCW Executive Council approved a plan for the destruction of chemica weapons in Syria. The decision was adopted unanimously. Following that, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2,118 in support of the plan for the elimination of chemical weapons in the SAR. All the 15 coutnries of the UNSC voted for the document.

The first group of OPCW experts began an inspection in Syria on October 1, this year. The Plan envisages the completion of the destruction of the production equipment at Syrian facilities by November 1 and the stocks of chemica weapons in Syria are to be finally eliminated by the middle of next year. OPCW experts and the Director-General pointed out a constructive beginning of the mission in Syria and the readiness for coopepation manifested by the country's authorities.

The OPCW was founded in 1997. On October 11, 2013, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the OPCW to be a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. At a news conference held on the same day, OPCW Director-General Ahme Uzumcu expressed hope that the award bestowed upon the Organization would inspire the non-member countries to join the Organization. He emphasized tha the Nobel Committee's decision was a pleasant surprise.

The purposes of the OPCW are chemical demilitarization and nonproliferation of chemical weapons. The CWC was signed in Paris on January 13, 1993, by 130 countries and entered into forces on April 29, 1997. The CWC is the first multilateral treaty whic not only bans a whole type of weapons of mass destruction but also provides a machinery for the checking of military and civilian chemical facilities.

The CWC signatory countries account for almost 98 percent of the world's population. Their territories take up almost the same percentage of the world's continental area. Ninety percent of the world's chemical industry are concentrated in these countries.

The OPCW's supreme body is a Conference of the member-states. The Organization is headquartered in theH ague.

According to OPCW data, as of July 2013, an aggregate of 57,740 metric tonnes, or 81.1 percent of the world's announced stocks of chemical weapons had been eliminated.

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