A few facts on chemical weapons:
A chemical weapon can be defined as a device that uses chemicals, especially synthesized, to cause severe harm and death to the human beings. The chemicals used in such weapons, can be used in the solid liquid or gaseous states and easily disseminated. Unlike a bomb which with the modern technologies can be dropped with surgical precision on the intended target, the effects of a chemical weapon cannot be contained. In most cases other than destroying the intended target, such a weapon claims thousands of innocent lives. Two very common examples of such weapons are nerve gas and tear gas. The most lethal chemicals used in such weapons are nerve agents like GA and GB, Vesicants (chemicals that cause blister) like HT and HD.
These are ‘unitary chemicals’, i.e. once released they can unleash destruction on their own and need not react with air or other chemical agents. Usually such chemicals are in the liquid state at the room temperature with transition to the gaseous state upon release, due to their extremely volatile nature. The First World War witnessed indiscriminate use of lethal chemicals like phosgene gas and mustard gas, which caused innumerable deaths from inhalation of such gases, resulting in a complete lung collapse, other than widespread cases of blinding and dismembering. The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 has ostracized the manufacturing, hoarding and using of such weapons of mass destruction. However, chemical weapon arsenals still exists in many countries, openly defying the Convention norms.
Russia’s negotiations with Syria for the chemical weapons disarmament:
It is to be noted here that, both India and Russia were opposed to any kind of military inference in the war ravaged country of Syria and had always argued for the dismantling of Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, as per the mandates of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Russia played a pivotal role in bargaining with Damascus to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to the international community for their consequent eradication.
Syria’s agreement to comply with the norms of OPCW:
While disregarding a military intervention to put an end to the conflicts in Syria, as of 13th September, 2013, India heartily accepted Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs in a social media site, a decision that effectively thwarted international military attacks against Syria. The UN General Secretary’s office confirmed of a written communication from Damascus which stated, “President Al – Assad had signed the legislative decree providing for the accession of Syria to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical weapons and on their Destruction of 1992”. An UN spokesperson further confirmed, “…..The Syrian Authorities have expressed their commitment to observe the obligations, entailed by the Convention, even before its entry into force, for Syria”.
The dismantling of the chemical weapons arsenal of Syria was a matter of extreme urgency, as the Obama administration was mulling over a military strike against the Assad regime as a retaliation against an alleged use of chemical weapon by the Syrian military, that had claimed over 1400 lives including 400 children. The whole issue is now under the investigation of the UN chemical weapons inspection team in Syria, who had collected samples for laboratory tests for confirming such alleged use of chemical weapon.
India’s decision of donating USD 1 million to the OPCW/UN for the destruction of the chemical weapons of Syria:
As of 3rd December, 2013, India has ratified a grant of USD 1 million to the trust of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at The Hague for the proposed dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and the production facilities and their consequent destruction. This is a very prudent move on the part of India, as it will further enhance the chances of the inclusion of our country in the upcoming Geneva – II peace talks, to be held sometimes in January, 2014, to diffuse the crisis prevailing in Syria. In the preliminary meet attended by the US, China, Russia, the European Union, authoritative neighboring countries of Syria like Turkey and Iran, the Syrian rebels and representatives of the Syrian President Bashar Al – Assad, Russia is supposed to float the name of India as a potential candidate for the actual peace talks. However, India’s participation in the Geneva peace talks will only be possible if all the existing members of the Convention reach a common decision over the candidature of our country.
As further confirmed by a statement issued on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs, India has also proffered its technical expertise in the consequent destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and related facilities. With a welcome note on the rapid progress of buffering and destroying the chemical weapons of Syria and Syria’s agreement to adhere to the norms of OPCW, the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), went as follows, “India’s assistance to the OPCW is a concrete demonstration of India’s consistent position of support for the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons worldwide”.
Underlining the position of India as an aspirant for the potential participation in the Geneva – II peace talks, aimed at terminating the three years old conflict in the war – torn country of Syria, the MEA statement added, “India would also offer the services of its experts to be used by the OPCW in the destruction verification activity as well as training slots for the personnel participating in the UN/OPCW mission for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons”. Further strengthening the case of India, as a potential candidate for the peace talks, the MEA statements confirmed, “India is an original state party to the chemical weapons convention and as a possessor of state it has completed the destruction of its chemical weapons in accordance with the convention”.
India’s possible participation in the upcoming Geneva – II peace conference:
The suggestion that India may be a potential participant in the Geneva – II peace conference scheduled to be held in January, 2014, came from Kremlin during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia. The primary aim of this year’s Geneva – II peace conference was to put an end to the sufferings of the Syrians in war torn country of Syria for the last three years. Another agenda of the conference was the post war rehabilitation of the country. A joint statement released by India and Russia during the Prime Minister’s trip to Russia confirmed that Russia really welcomed India’s participation in the Geneva – II peace talks. Dr Riad Kamel Abbas, Syrian Ambassador to India, commented to the media, “India is our friend and we would like to see India at the Geneva Conference. We appreciate India’s position on the issue and we would like India to be a big member at the Geneva conclave. India is the biggest democracy in the world and promotes a peaceful spirit that the world takes note of. India is important because it has asked for a political solution to the problem, and that’s what we have asked for from the beginning”.
India has played a very wise international political card when it announced the grant of USD 1 million to the UN/ OPCW for the destruction of the chemical weapons of Syria. On one hand, such a gesture on the part of our country has enhanced its peacekeeping, non – violent image, upholding the humane cause of destruction of chemical weapons, on the other hand this gesture might just be the pass for the entry of India in the Geneva – II peace conference, both of which magnifies the global profile of our country.
Credit should also be given to Russia for the timely persuasion of the Syrian Government to part with its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria, rife with violence and war, had long attracted the attentions of the warmongering nation US, who had already been accusing the Syrian military, of using chemical weapons. Had it not been for the intervention of the UN, the Obama administration, with its permanent trigger itch, would already have waged a war against Syria, on the pretext of possession and use of chemical weapons!