An international conference condemned the use of chemical weapons Wednesday and called for a new agreement banning their production and storage. The final declaration ignored Arab demands to mention nuclear arms.
U.S. delegates said they were pleased with the declaration, which officials from 150 nations adopted by consensus after a five-day meeting.The document urges stepped-up negotiations in Geneva to ban development, production, storage and use of chemical arms. It also recommends strengthened powers for the U.N. secretary-general to investigate chemical weapons use.
The participating states "solemnly affirm their commitments not to use chemical weapons and condemn such use. They recall their serous concern at recent violations as established and condemned by the competent organs of the United Nations," the declaration said.
"The participating states stress the necessity of concluding, at an early date, a convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of all chemical weapons, and on their destruction. This convention shall be global and comprehensive and effectively verifiable."
The declaration, which is not binding, illustrates "the common will of nations to condemn chemical weapons," Kalevi Sorsa of Finland, chairman of the drafting committee, told reporters.
Sorsa said obtaining a consensus "required concessions and compromises from all sides." But, "From here on we can refer back to the Paris conference and its text."
The resolution reaffirms participating nations' commitment to a Geneva protocol that bans the use of chemical weapons but not their production and storage. The protocol often has been ignored since it was signed 67 years ago.
Arab delegates failed to persuade the meeting to implicitly condemn Israel's alleged nuclear capability. Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz of Iraq said he and his Arab colleagues finally decided not to take a position that would prevent the success of the conference.
Aziz complained, "That draft falls short of our concerns. Where there is one country that has nuclear weapons and that country that has mass destruction weapons is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty . . . and has refused to reach peace . . . that nation constitutes a real threat to the peace and security of the region."