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India rejects anti-chemical weapons draft, says consultations were incomplete

India rejects anti-chemical weapons draft, says consultations were incomplete

The Hague: India has voted against the draft decision on addressing the threat from chemical weapons use at a special conference of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) here, citing "incomplete consultations".

India thus joined Russia, China and South Africa in voting against the UK and US-backed decision that authorises OPCW to identify perpetrators of chemical weapons attack, stating that adequate concerns were not taken on board by the sponsors.

India claimed that decision violates the Chemical Weapons Convention's (CWC) finely crafted balance and instead gives unchecked powers to the OPCW DG. 
Speaking at the conference, India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OPCW, Venu Rajamony, said the country is against the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances and believes those who indulge in such "abhorrent acts" must be held accountable.

"We have studied this draft very carefully and have consulted widely including with the drafters and the main co-sponsors of the draft decision. However, we believe that on an issue of such grave importance, the consultations conducted by the sponsors remain incomplete. It has been India's view that the draft decision of such far-reaching importance and implications should be the end result of a comprehensive and extensive consultation," Rajamony said while explaining India's vote on the draft decision on 'Addressing the Threat from Chemical Weapons Use'.

"As our concerns have not been addressed by the draft decision, India has decided to vote against the draft decision," Rajamony said.

"However, India remains willing and open for discussions with States Parties to find ways and means to strengthen the Convention and its effective implementation including on the present issue of timely attribution to the extent, provided it is strictly within the framework of the Convention,'' he added.

''The international community has high expectations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and it is incumbent on all States Parties to rise up to this expectation by preserving and protecting the Convention" he said.

The Permanent Representative to the OPCW said that India expresses its deepest sympathies to the victims of chemical weapons attacks and their families.

The conference has been called by the UK, the US and the West to have discussions on upholding the global ban against the use of chemical weapons.

The UK has reportedly proposed to consider empowering the OPCW to identify the organisation or government responsible for chemical attacks in addition to its existing power of carrying out the investigation into such cases.

"It has been India's consistent position that the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances, cannot be justified and the perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable," Rajamony said.

''The use of chemical weapons is in complete disregard of humanity and is reprehensible and contrary to the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as accepted international legal norms. It is important to maintain the credibility and integrity of the Convention,'' he said.

All investigations of the alleged use of chemical weapons should be conducted in an impartial and objective manner and strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, the ambassador said.

He urged that all provisions of the Convention be utilised to address these concerns, according to a statement issued today by the Indian Embassy at The Hague.

Rajamony said while there was unity on the goal, there are strong differences on how to achieve this goal.

"India attaches the highest importance to this organisation and has therefore always emphasised the importance of consensus and the need for all decisions to be taken by the members of OPCW in consultation with each other, taking on board different points of view," he said.

India has also called for constructive engagement, dialogue and unity of purpose at the specially-convened conference.

The UK Draft was passed with 82 votes in its favour and 24 opposing it at the Chemical Weapons Convention. The global ban against chemical weapons is the fundamental goal for which the Chemical Weapons Convention has been adopted.

The special session is being held in the backdrop of the widespread concern over reports of the use of chemical weapons in Malaysia, the UK, Northern Ireland, Syria and Iraq. 

The meeting is taking place over three months after the Salisbury nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy which the UK says was carried out by Russia. 

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