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UN seeks information from Syria on chemical weapons

United Nations, Sep 14 (IANS) The United Nations said Friday that it required more information from Syria before it can claim full membership in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Published: 14th September 2013 11:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2013 11:47 AM   |  A+A-

By IANS

The United Nations said Friday that it required more information from Syria before it can claim full membership in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"I'm not going to get into the legal niceties of it. It's just a legal procedure," Xinhua quoted UN associate spokesperson Farhan Haq as saying.

"It's just that sometimes there's a need for further information."

Asked if Syria was now a member of the OPCW, as claimed by the country's UN envoy Thursday, Haq said: "That doesn't happen immediately. No."

The OPCW is the implementing authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention, a multilateral pact that bars countries that are party to it from developing, producing, stockpiling, acquiring, transferring or retaining such weapons.

"The process has begun," Haq said.

"At this stage, what the UN is doing is that we are in contact with the government of Syria to obtain any further information that would be needed so that we can complete the process of depositing the instrument of accession. Once that happens it would take another 30 days to enter into force."

However, the UN spokesperson said that the Syrian regime has "already made clear that even before that it will abide by the terms of the convention".

There is no need for Syria to ratify the treaty, Haq said.

"They are depositing an instrument of accession," he said. "There's additional information that's needed. But it's a different process. It doesn't need parliamentary action."

However, he did not give details on the additional information requested by the United Nations.

Haq pointed out there was "a difference in signing it, which implies an intention to ratify it, and ratification. In this case the deposit of an instrument of accession has the same status as ratification. Acceding to a treaty is the same status as ratifying it in terms of the commitment of membership".

Therefore, once the additional information is received and the obligations regulated in the convention are met, the clock will start ticking off the 30 days before a full legal membership.

Haq also said there was still no timeline on the release of a report from a UN team investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. Several media reports said it would be released Monday.

Any remarks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were not based on the report because he did not have it, Haq said.

"He may have made off the cuff remark about this, but the fact remains he's willing to see what the report says and once that happens will evaluate accordingly," the spokesperson said.

"That report still has to come and he will evaluate it at that point."

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