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Friday, April 04, 2008 Chemical weapons watchdog group urges holdout countries to join treaty

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Friday called on 12 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, to join the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as the organization prepared to hold a review conference next week. So far, 183 countries [OPCW list] have joined the treaty, which prohibits the use or undeclared storage of chemical weapons by member nations. The CWC required that banned weapons, including nerve and mustard gases, be destroyed by June 2007, though countries may apply for a five-year extension. .

Last fall, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Iraq would join the treaty . Several Arab countries have so far refused to accede to the CWC because Israel has not signed the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons . Israel is one of six countries [OPCW list] that have signed the CWC but not yet ratified it

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