Syria says it is now full member of anti-chemical weapons treaty

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“Legally speaking Syria has become, starting today, a full member of the (chemical weapons) convention,” Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari told reporters in New York.

After submitting relevant documents to the United Nations, Jaafari said President Bashar al-Assad signed a legislative decree on Thursday that “declared the Syrian Arab Republic approval to accede to the convention” and that Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem had written to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to notify it of Syria's decision to join the convention.

“The chemical weapons in Syria are a mere deterrence against the Israeli nuclear arsenal,” Jaafari said as he waved a document he said was a CIA report on Israel's chemical weapons program.

“It's a deterrent weapon and now the time has come for the Syrian government to join the (convention) as a gesture to show our willingness to be against all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

But a U.N. official was quoted by Reuters as saying that Syria needs to take a “a few more steps” before it becomes a signatory of the treaty.

Syria was one of only seven countries not to have joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which commits members to destroying their stockpiles.

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