A team of Indian experts will soon visit Afghanistan to advance the ongoing cooperation between the two countries under the world chemical weapons watchdog’s mentorship and partnership programme, a top Indian diplomat has said. Addressing a conference of State Parties of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Tuesday, India’s ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative of India to OPCW Venu Rajamony said India condemns the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances. The Hague-based OPCW is an international organisation which came into force in 1997 to implement and enforce the terms of the international treaty, which prohibits the use, stockpiling or transfer of chemical weapons by signatory States. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.
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"All perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable. At the same time, all investigations into alleged use of chemical weapons should be impartial, objective and conducted strictly in accordance with the Convention. The impartiality and integrity of the OPCW should be preserved under all circumstances," Rajamony said. He said Indian experts will soon visit Afghanistan as part of cooperation between the two national authorities, under the OPCW national authority mentorship/partnership programme, the Indian embassy here said in a statement.
The Indian authorities have already shared knowledge, skills and experience with their Afghan counterparts in the first round of the programme which was held in New Delhi from April 29 to May 3 this year. The programme facilitates visits between the national authorities who are at different stages of national implementation. "The chemical weapons convention is a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument and a model for elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. As a result of the convention, more than 97 per cent of chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been eliminated," Rajamony claimed.
The convention now covers 98 per cent of the global population, he said. "Achievement of a comprehensive and verifiable ban on chemical weapons hinges on full universality of the convention. Universality is critical to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons and its access by non-state actors. We call upon remaining States that are not parties to the convention to consider acceding to the convention at the earliest. We also hope all remaining declared chemical weapons stockpiles will be soon destroyed," he said.
India supports adherence to the rules and procedures and established practices under the framework of the convention to preserve its integrity, he said. "States parties should desist from politicisation of the OPCW and refrain from raising extraneous matters that divert from the core objective of achieving disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons," he added.