Chemical weapons ban goes into force in Myanmar

7th August 2015, Comments 0 comments

The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production, storage and use of chemical arms, has gone into force in Myanmar, an international watchdog said Friday.

The southeast Asian country has previously faced accusations of storing and using such weapons.

"Myanmar today became the 191st State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), as the Convention entered into force for the country," the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.

"Myanmar's accession brings the CWC closer to universal adherence and to achieving a world free of chemical weapons," director Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement.

Since the global ban on producing and storing chemical weapons first came into force in 1997, 191 nations have signed up to the convention administered by the OPCW.

Five countries remain outside the agreement: Angola, Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan.

In July 2014, five journalists from Myanmar were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour over an article accusing the military of producing chemical arms.

The previous year Myanmar's quasi-civilian government had denied using chemical weapons against rebels from the Kachin ethnic minority during clashes in the north of the country.

In 2005, London-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide accused the former military junta of using chemical weapons against rebels from the Karen community.

The OPCW won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

Myanmar ratified the chemical arms treaty on July 8, but in line with convention rules it only came into force 30 days later.

The government must now submit a declaration specifying certain details on its accession, though OPCW spokesman Malik Ellahi has previously said the country was joining the treaty as a "non-possessor" of chemical weapons.

© 2015 AFP

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