After examining it for more than 3 years, the U.S. Senate late last night recommended that the U.S. ratify the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). And while the Senators attached 28 minor reservations to their ratification measure, they turned down the 5 so-called "killer" amendments that would have effectively nullified ratification. The treaty will enter into force on April 29. Signatories who have not deposited their documents of ratification by that time will not be able to take part in the various bodies of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) established by the convention, nor will they be allowed to provide inspectors or staff members to help verify the treaty. Their chemical industries will also be put at a disadvantage in foreign trade. The leaders of those states ratifying the treaty are scheduled to meet in the Netherlands early next month.
Besides the U.S., Russia, along with Iraq, are the only states who have admitted having chemical weapons. While Iraq has not signed the treaty, Russia has. Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine have also signed but not ratified the CWC. President Boris Yeltsin has submitted the convention to the State Duma with a strong recommendation that it be approved, but the legislators have balked at ratification. Earlier this month, the Deputy Chairman of the Duma, Sergei Baburin, complained that the government had still not provided data as to the financial implications of Russian participation in the treaty regime. (Interfax, April 16) Despite this, the U.S. Senate’s action might provide enough of an incentive for the Duma to act on the convention.
Chemical weapons were also one of the topics raised yesterday when Russian Defense Council secretary Yury Baturin met with NATO leaders in Brussels. Baturin appealed for NATO help in neutralizing the thousands of tons of chemical weapons dumped into the Baltic Sea during and after World War II, both by the Allies and the Soviet Union. Baturin said that Russia had the technology and equipment to deal with the problem, but could not afford the cost. (RIA Novosti, April 24)
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