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IS has access to chemical warfare agents production — Russian Foreign Ministry

October 29, 2015, 10:01 UTC+3
The director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for non-proliferation and arms control called to investigate the use of chemical warfare agents in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State terrorists
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©  AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

MOSCOW, October 29. /TASS/. The Islamic State terrorist group has taken possession of production of chemical warfare agents, Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for non-proliferation and arms control Mikhail Ulyanov told TASS on Thursday.

Ulyanov called to investigate the use of chemical warfare agents in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State terrorists.

"In the IS case, this is already not only the use of chlorine for military purposes, what Damascus is usually accused of, although there has been no proof yet," Mikhail Ulyanov said.

"There are facts against the IS on the use of real chemical weapons - mustard agent, and possibly, lewisite the production of which demands use of rather complex technologies," the diplomat said.

All data show that the IS group has indeed gained access to technologies of manufacturing chemical weapons, Ulyanov said. "A lot of facts of use of chemical weapons on the territory of Syria and Iraq by the IS gunmen have been already registered," he said.

The diplomat said he regrets that the UN Security Council has not so far condemned these facts "first of all due to the position of our Western partners." Russia has repeatedly insisted on the respective response.

The mandate of the joint activity of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on investigating the cases of the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria could be extended for the territory of Iraq, he said.

"There has been no decision in this regard yet, but we have already prepared and put the draft resolution on the UN Security Council’s table several weeks ago," he said.

Process of Syria’s chemical demilitarization almost completed

The official also noted that Moscow considers the process of chemical demilitarization of Syria almost completed.

"All chemical weapons have been transported out of Syria. Only one percent from the total volume is left to destroy. An American firm dealing with this encountered technological difficulties and suspended work for now. However, the Syrian territory has been cleared from chemical weapons," Ulyanov said.

"At the same time, our Western partners make claims against Damascus on whether the initial declaration about chemical weapons in their possession was comprehensive. Such declaration is provided when a country joins the [Chemical Weapons] Convention. So, Western countries think that the declaration is not complete. In this connection, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons set up a special commission to check the comprehensiveness of the declaration," the diplomat explained.

Ulyanov noted that "Damascus agreed to this as a gesture of good will, though it did not have to do this in accordance with the Convention." "Syria is rather actively cooperation with this mission but its work has not been completed yet, and final conclusions have not been made," he stressed.

The diplomat reminded that the mission on establishing instances of possible chemical weapons us "is again operating on the Syrian territory but, in our opinion, its activities should be expanded to the territory of Iraq" since instances of chemical weapons use by the Islamic State terrorist organization were registered there. "The work of this mission has not been completed there as well," he stressed.

Over 90% of Russia's chemical weapons destroyed

According to Ulyanov Russia has by now destroyed more than 90% of its chemical weapons stockpiles accumulated since the Soviet era and intends to fully eliminate the remaining arsenals over the next five years.

"Russia is steadily approaching the fulfillment of its obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction," he said. "Russia has already destroyed nearly 92% of the arsenals that have remained since the Soviet era, when they were just beginning to develop the Convention. We are to completely destroy our chemical arsenals no later than in 2020."

Ulyanov noted though that the total elimination could occur earlier. "Tremendous work has been done, especially by Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, which is our national agency overseeing the compliance with the obligation under the Convention," he noted. "We reached the stage where six of seven facilities to destroy chemical weapons built earlier have performed their tasks and are to be redesigned."

One of them is the Maradykovsky facility in the town of Mirny [in the Volga Federal District], the diplomat noted. On Friday, October 30, a solemn ceremony on the occasion of completion of its work will take place at the facility with the participation of the Director-General of the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the ambassadors of several countries to the organization in the Hague who will come to Russia too.

US lags behind in implementing convention on destroying chemical weapons

The diplomat pointed out that the United States may be among the last signatories of the Convention on destroying chemical weapons in meeting its commitments under the document.

"The US has also made significant progress in implementing the Convention, but most likely, it will probably be the last country that will fulfill the respective commitments," Mikhail Ulyanov said.

The United States plans to complete the works in 2023 and is now building additional facilities to destroy the remaining chemical weapons, the Russian diplomat said. The US has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons, he reminded.

"Originally, April 2007 was set as the deadline, but this timeframe turned out to be unrealistic," Ulyanov said. "That’s why it was extended for another five years, and then new adjustments were made."

"We have defined for ourselves and the remaining participants of the Convention agreed with this that 2020 is the final deadline," the diplomat said.

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