Ban takes effect in six months

The most hated and despised weapons ever devised will be banned by international agreement next year.The last hurdle to a global, permanent ban on chemical weapons - poison gas and droplets which choke, poison blood or destroy the nervous system - has been passed with Hungary ratifying the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It will come into force on 29 April, after 28 years of negotiations.

Last night politicians, diplomats and arms control experts expressed delight. "This means CWC will definitely enter into force in six months' time," said David Davis, minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. "This is a milestone in international arms control efforts. The CWC is the first multilateral treaty to impose a complete ban on an entire class of weapons and a verification regime to monitor compliance."

Some 160 nations have signed the convention. Britain was the 51st, on 13 May this year. With Hungary, it has been ratified by 65, the number necessary to bring it into force.

The US and Russia, the only nations that have admitted still possessing chemical weapons, have not ratified the convention but as signatories they will be bound by it and will have to destroy all their remaining chemical weapons stocks. A review conference is to be held within 30 days of the convention coming into force and if the US and Russia want to attend they will have to have ratified it.

Iraq, which has made most use of chemical weapons in recent times, has not signed the convention but is regarded as a "special case", subject to surveillance by the UN Special Commission on Iraq.

The ban binds signatories to destroy production facilities and never to develop, produce, acquire or stockpile chemical weapons or transfer them to anyone, never to use chemical weapons and never to assist or encourage anyone to engage in any other activity prohibited by the convention, including the use of riot-control gases in warfare. Industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical research, and research designed to enhance protection against chemical weapons, is still allowed.

Following their use in the First World War, the use of chemical weapons was banned by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. However, the right to use chemical weapons in retaliation was retained by many states, and the protocol did not stop the Italians using them in Abyssinia. Chemical weapons underwent further development in the Thirties, with Germany developing nerve gas. The threat remained during the Second World War and the Cold War. Negotiations on a treaty began in 1968 but progress was made only after a US-USSR agreement in 1990. This committed both to reducing their stocks to 5,000 tons by 2002. The remainder will now be destroyed.

"There isn't a political problem with that but the disposal of these substances will be expensive," said Anil Wahwa, spokesman for the Preparatory Commission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague, set up under the convention.

A OPCW will now be set up, with a member from each of the signatory states, and an executive council of 41.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore