| Peres: Israel will ‘consider’ joining chemical weapons ban treaty!

Peres: Israel will consider joining chemical weapons ban treaty ~ GlobalPost – International News.

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Israeli government will seriously consider joining the international treaty banning chemical weapons after Syria said it would destroy its own toxic arsenal, President Shimon Peres said on Monday.

Israel remains one of just six countries in the world not to have joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention following Syria’s move this month.

“I am sure our government will consider it seriously,” Peres told reporters in The Hague, the Dutch city that is home to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees the convention.

As with its nuclear arsenal, Israel has never publicly admitted to having chemical weapons. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said this month that Israel would be ready to discuss the issue when there was peace in the Middle East.

Peres’ role as head of state is largely ceremonial but he is an influential figure on the world stage and was instrumental in turning Israel into an undeclared nuclear power in the 1960s.

Under a joint Russian-U.S. proposal, Syria has committed to destroying its chemical weapons arsenal within nine months. It is believed to comprise around 1,000 metric tonnes of sarin, mustard and XV nerve agents.

A team of weapons inspectors from the OPCW will head to Syria this week to make an inventory of its chemical stockpiles and munitions to determine how and where to destroy them.

Syria spent decades building up its chemical weapons program, largely to counter Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.

Peres said Syria only joined the convention when facing the threat of military force, but added that Israel would nevertheless consider a call by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for all countries to sign up to the treaty.

The other nations not to have joined the convention are Myanmar, Egypt, Angola, North Korea and South Sudan.

(Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Jerusalem, editing by Gareth Jones)

________________________________________________________________________

Hypo Cert4 israeli nukes riskA

Hypocrite B Nuke Holocaust 2

 

| Zio-impunity: Let’s take diplomacy on Syria to a regional level!

Let’s Take Diplomacy on Syria to a Regional Level ~ L Michael HagerTruthout.

Those opposed to a United States attack on Syria (a majority of us, according to the polls) can take comfort in Vladimir Putin’s recent démarche. It averted (or at least postponed) a military action that could send America down a slippery slope to another Middle East war.

The current crisis has freed President Barack Obama from the credibility box he created for himself with his unfortunate “red line” threat. More importantly, it may soon lead to the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons – and maybe even to the beginning of a political resolution of the ongoing civil war.

It also presents the US president with a potential opportunity. If and when the removal of Syrian chemical weapons begins in earnest, Obama could propose to take the Russian-Syrian offer to a higher level – by extending the United States’ negotiations with Russia to include WMD disarmament from the entire Middle East, not just Syria. Such a process would establish America’s leadership in a wider peace-building effort.

President Barack Obama speaks in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Sept. 27, 2013. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

President Barack Obama speaks in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Sept. 27, 2013. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

 

The sudden shift from military strike to diplomacy has set in motion some important preliminary actions. Although still in flux, they could serve as a promising basis for a broader geographic settlement:

Syria has publicly acknowledged its possession of chemical weapons.

Syria has ratified the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to put its chemical weapons under international control and disposal.

Russia has begun to engage with Syria and the United States on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons and a possible diplomatic resolution of the Syrian civil war.

The United Nations, the European Union and some Arab states support the current diplomatic effort.

Obama and Putin would gain from a negotiated settlement because they need to establish leadership credibility. Also, the United States and Russia desire a stable Middle East.

The idea for a nuclear-weapons-free zone is not new. It goes back to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the regional nuclear-weapon-free zones (in Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Pacific, Africa and Central Asia) that followed. Continuing opposition of Israel (not an NPT member) has kept such a plan off the table for the Middle East.

In 2011, Finland offered to host a conference to lay the groundwork for the possible creation of a broader WMD-free Middle East. The conference never took place. Some observers attributed the cancellation to US and Israeli fears that the conference would call attention to Israel’s unacknowledged nuclear weapons capacity. The United States and Israel have insisted that there can be no nuclear-arms-free zone in the Middle East without a broad Arab-Israeli peace and an Iranian commitment to curb its nuclear program.

Now, however, the time may be right for a major breakthrough. Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, has expressed his readiness to negotiate with the West about its nuclear program. In his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013, Rouhani said his country is “prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.” Israel and the Palestinians have resumed peace talks. Thus the two cited obstacles may disappear soon.

A July 2012 paper on Syria’s proliferation challenge published by the EU network of non-proliferation think tanks, part of the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium, concluded thatthe prime determinant of Syria’s WMD has been the perceived imperative of achieving strategic parity with Israel. The deactivation of Syria’s chemical weapons might prompt Iran and Israel to consider reciprocal actions, such as participation in a regional conference on WMD elimination.

Diplomacy is now the key. A regional conference such as the Finns proposed would be a good place to start. Getting both Iran and Israel to the table will be difficult, but if the Russians push Iran and the United States takes a firm stance with Israel, it could happen.

If Syria continues to honor its chemical weapons commitments, Iran begins to negotiate on its nuclear program and the US-Russia talks remain on track, the United States should declare its support for a regional WMD-free zone. Such a policy shift would demonstrate America’s foreign policy independence and a renewal of its proactive role as a regional peacemaker.

_________________________________________________________________________

DustbinZio

| US and Russia agree Syria chemical weapons deal in Geneva!

US and Russia agree Syria chemical weapons deal in Geneva ~ BBC.

Syria’s chemical weapons must be destroyed or removed by mid-2014, under an agreement between the US and Russia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry outlined a six-point framework under which Syria must hand over a full list of its stockpile within a week.

If Syria fails to comply, the deal could be enforced by a UN resolution backed by the threat of sanctions or military force.

The US says the Syrian regime killed hundreds in a gas attack last month.

The government of Bashar al-Assad denies the allegations and has accused the rebels of carrying out the attack on 21 August.

In a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Mr Kerry called on the Assad government to live up to its public commitments.

“There can be no room for games. Or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime,” he said.

BBC’s Paul Adams: ‘A remarkable agreement’

Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov said if Syria failed to comply, then a UN resolution would be sought under Chapter VII of the UN charter, which allows for the use of force.

Mr Kerry said inspectors must be on the ground by November, and that the stockpiles should be removed or destroyed by mid-2014.

The six points outlined by Mr Kerry were:

  1. The amount and type of chemical weapons must be agreed and “rapidly” placed under international control
  2. Syria must submit within one week a comprehensive listing of its stockpiles
  3. Extraordinary procedures under the Chemical Weapons Convention will allow “expeditious destruction”
  4. Syria must give inspectors “immediate, unfettered access” to all sites
  5. All chemical weapons must be destroyed, including the possibility of removing weapons from Syrian territory
  6. UN will provide logistical support, and compliance would be enforced under Chapter VII

France, which was the only country willing to join the US in taking military action in Syria, welcomed the agreement.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it was an “important advance”.

However, the military leader of the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army rejected the deal and promised to continue fighting.


Agreed target dates

  • Completion of initial on-site inspections by November
  • Destruction of production and mixing equipmentby November
  • Complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014

“There is nothing in this agreement that concerns us,” said Gen Salim Idriss, describing it as a Russian initiative designed to gain time for the Syrian government.

Mr Kerry said he hoped the deal would help kick-start a wider peace process.

“We could also lay the groundwork for further co-operation that is essential to end the bloodshed that has consumed Syria for more than two years,” he said.

“What we agreed on here today could conceivable be the first critical concrete step in that direction.”

Mr Lavrov suggested there could be another international peace conference on Syria by October.

“The main thing is to make sure that all Syrian sides are represented at the conference,” he said.

Over the years there have been several conferences, some of which have included the Syrian opposition and excluded the government.

More than 100,000 people have died since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

Millions of Syrians have fled the country, and millions more have been left homeless by the fighting.

_________________________________________________________________________

 

| Israel stockpiled chemical weapons decades ago – CIA document!

Israel stockpiled chemical weapons decades ago – CIA document ~ RT.

Israel is believed to have secretly built up its own stockpile of chemical and biological weapons decades ago, reports Foreign Policy, citing a recently unearthed CIA document.

American surveillance satellites uncovered in 1982 “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert,” states the secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate obtained by Foreign Policy (FP). “Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry,” the document adds.

According to FP, US intelligence agencies are almost certain that Israel possesses a stockpile of nuclear weapons that the Middle Eastern country developed in the 1960s and 1970s as part of its defense against a possible attack from Arab neighbors.

The FP report is based on a page from a secret, Sept. 15, 1983, CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate entitled “Implications of Soviet Use of Chemical and Toxin Weapons for US Security Interests.” Part of the document was released in 2009 in the National Archives, but the piece on Israel was extracted from that version.

For years, arms control analysts have speculated that Israel built up a range of chemical and biological weapons to complement its alleged nuclear arsenal.

Experts’ attention, in particular, was focused on the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Ness Ziona, located 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. The highly-classified research center operated and funded by the Israel Ministry of Defense is alleged to be a military facility manufacturing chemical and biological weapons.  The IIBR was allegedly involved in several “accidents.” In one of them, according to the British Foreign Report in 1998, authorities were close to ordering evacuation of homes in the area before scientists discovered there was no threat to the population.

However, to date not much evidence has been published about Israel possessing chemical or nuclear weapons. The newly-discovered CIA memo may be the strongest indication yet, FP writes.

While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the CIA document is quoted as saying, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and non-persistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

 

 

The “non-persistent agent” mentioned in the secret document was likely sarin – a nerve gas that was allegedly used in the August 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, FP writes. The US blamed the Syrian government for the attack and threatened to launch a military strike in response.

The 1983 CIA memo reveals that US intelligence was aware of Israeli alleged chemical weapons-testing activities since the early 1970s – when they learned from intelligence sources about the existence of chemical weapons testing grounds. It is almost certain that these test areas were located in Negev Desert, in southern Israel, FP writes.

Israel stepped up its research and development work on chemical weapons following the end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, according to the CIA document. The war began when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack against Israel as the nation was celebrating Yom Kippur – the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar.

Israel, finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding CW capabilities, became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack,” the document says. “Its sensitivities were galvanized by the capture of large quantities of Soviet CW-related equipment during both the 1967 Arab-Israeli and the 1973 Yom Kippur wars. As a result, Israel undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas.”

The report also claims that in January 1976, American intelligence detected “possible tests” of Israeli chemical weapons very likely to have taken place in the Negev Desert. FP cites a former US Air Force intelligence officer, who told the magazine that the National Security Agency intercepted communications indicating that Israeli air force fighter-bombers carried out a simulated low-level chemical weapons delivery missions at a bombing range in the Negev.

1NIE on Israeli Chemical Weapons

SHOW ME MORE LIKE 1NIE ON ISRAELI CHEMICAL WEAPONS

It is unknown whether Israel still keeps its alleged stockpile of chemical weapons. In 1992, the Israeli government signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws such arms. Crucially, however,  Israel has not ratified the agreement.

The author of the FP article claims that after a search on Google Maps, he found what he believes to be “the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility and its associated chemical weapons storage area” in the Negev Desert east of the village of al-Kilab, about 10 miles west of the city of Dimona.

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond to FP’s requests to comment on the article.

The CIA document emerged as the US mulls over a possible “limited” military strike against the Syrian regime that President Barack Obama was pushing for following the chemical weapons attack last month.

On Tuesday, Obama the urged the US Congress to postpone a vote to authorize military action, and said he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the ongoing Syrian war. Obama cited theRussian proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control among the reasons for the delay. Damascus has this week agreed to hand over its chemical weapons to international supervisors, and to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

_______________________________________________________________________

Anon Goyim2

NuttyYahoo1

| Obama’s rogue state tramples over every law it demands others uphold!

Obama’s rogue state tramples over every law it demands others uphold ~

    • US fire white phosphorous at Taliban

      US troops fire a white phosphorous mortar towards a Taliban position on 3 April 2009 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Photograph: John Moore/Getty

      You could almost pity these people. For 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN security council. They’ve defended a system which grants five nations a veto over world affairs, reducing all others to impotent spectators. They have abused the powers and trust with which they have been vested. They have collaborated with the other four permanent members (the UK, Russia, China and France) in a colonial carve-up, through which these nations can pursue their own corrupt interests at the expense of peace and global justice.

      Eighty-three times the US has exercised its veto. On 42 of these occasions it has done so to prevent Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians being censured. On the last occasion, 130 nations supported the resolution but Barack Obama spiked it. Though veto powers have been used less often since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US has exercised them 14 times in the interim (in 13 cases to shield Israel), while Russia has used them nine times. Increasingly the permanent members have used the threat of a veto to prevent a resolution being discussed. They have bullied the rest of the world into silence.

      Through this tyrannical dispensation – created at a time when other nations were either broken or voiceless – the great warmongers of the past 60 years remain responsible for global peace. The biggest weapons traders are tasked with global disarmament. Those who trample international law control the administration of justice.

      But now, as the veto powers of two permanent members (Russia and China) obstruct its attempt to pour petrol on another Middle Eastern fire, the US suddenly decides that the system is illegitimate. Obama says: “If we end up using the UN security council not as a means of enforcing international norms and international law, but rather as a barrier … then I think people rightly are going to be pretty skeptical about the system.” Well, yes.

      Never have Obama or his predecessors attempted a serious reform of this system. Never have they sought to replace a corrupt global oligarchy with a democratic body. Never do they lament this injustice – until they object to the outcome. The same goes for every aspect of global governance.

      Obama warned last week that Syria’s use of poisoned gas “threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations“. Unravelling the international norm is the US president‘s job.

      In 1997 the US agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarinVX,mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention – five years. Again it failed to keep its promise, and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021. Russia yesterday urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. Perhaps it should press the US to do the same.

      In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed a law through Congress which forbade international weapons inspectors from taking samples of chemicals in the US and allowed the president to refuse unannounced inspections. In 2002 the Bush government forced the sacking of José Maurício Bustani, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He had committed two unforgiveable crimes: seeking a rigorous inspection of US facilities; and pressing Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, to help prevent the war George Bush was itching to wage.

      The US used millions of gallons of chemical weapons in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It also used them during its destruction of Falluja in 2004,then lied about it. The Reagan government helped Saddam Hussein to wage war with Iran in the 1980s while aware that he was using nerve and mustard gas. (The Bush administration then cited this deployment as an excuse to attack Iraq, 15 years later).

      Smallpox has been eliminated from the human population, but two nations – the US and Russia – insist on keeping the pathogen in cold storage. They claim their purpose is to develop defences against possible biological weapons attack, but most experts in the field consider this to be nonsense. While raising concerns about each other’s possession of the disease, they have worked together to bludgeon the other members of the World Health Organisation, which have pressed them to destroy their stocks.

      In 2001 the New York Times reported that, without either Congressional oversight or a declaration to the Biological Weapons Convention, “the Pentagon has built a germ factory that could make enough lethal microbes to wipe out entire cities“. The Pentagon claimed the purpose was defensive but, developed in contravention of international law, it didn’t look good. The Bush government also sought to destroy the Biological Weapons Convention as an effective instrument by scuttling negotiations over the verification protocol required to make it work.

      Looming over all this is the great unmentionable: the cover the US provides for Israel’s weapons of mass destruction. It’s not just that Israel – which refuses to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention – has used white phosphorus as a weapon in Gaza (when deployed against people, phosphorus meets the convention’s definition of “any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm”).

       

      It’s also that, as the Washington Post points out: “Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile results from a never-acknowledged gentleman’s agreement in the Middle East that as long as Israel had nuclear weapons, Syria’s pursuit of chemical weapons would not attract much public acknowledgement or criticism.” Israel has developed its nuclear arsenal in defiance of the non-proliferation treaty, and the US supports it in defiance of its own law, which forbids the disbursement of aid to a country with unauthorised weapons of mass destruction.

      As for the norms of international law, let’s remind ourselves where the US stands. It remains outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, after declaring its citizens immune from prosecution. The crime of aggression it committed in Iraq – defined by the Nuremberg tribunal as “the supreme international crime” – goes not just unpunished but also unmentioned by anyone in government. The same applies to most of the subsidiary war crimes US troops committed during the invasion and occupation. Guantánamo Bay raises a finger to any notions of justice between nations.

      None of this is to exonerate Bashar al-Assad’s government – or its opponents – of a long series of hideous crimes, including the use of chemical weapons. Nor is it to suggest that there is an easy answer to the horrors in Syria.

      But Obama’s failure to be honest about his nation’s record of destroying international norms and undermining international law, his myth-making about the role of the US in world affairs, and his one-sided interventions in the Middle East, all render the crisis in Syria even harder to resolve. Until there is some candour about past crimes and current injustices, until there is an effort to address the inequalities over which the US presides, everything it attempts – even if it doesn’t involve guns and bombs – will stoke the cynicism and anger the president says he wants to quench.

      During his first inauguration speech Barack Obama promised to “set aside childish things”. We all knew what he meant. He hasn’t done it.

      _______________________________________________________________________

      Hegemony A

hypocrisy meterC

 

| Back from G20, Ban considering proposals to prompt political solution to Syria crisis!

Back from G20, Ban considering proposals to prompt political solution to Syria crisis ~ UN News Centre.

9 September 2013 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that two-and-half years of conflict in Syria have produced only “embarrassing paralysis” in the Security Council and that he was considering proposals to the 15-member body in the search for a political solution.

In his first press conference since returning to New York from the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Mr. Ban said that should a UN weapons team confirm use of chemical agents in the 21 August incident in Syria, it would be an “abominable crime” and the international community “would certainly have to do something about it.”

“The Syrian people need peace,” he declared.

“Should Dr. Sellström’s report confirm the use of chemical weapons, then this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response – and indeed something that should merit universal condemnation,” Mr. Ban told reporters.

The UN chief added that he is already considering “certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council” when presenting the investigation team’s report.

Those include urging the Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed, Mr. Ban said.

He also urged Damascus to become a party to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Syria is not a party CWC, but it is a party to the Geneva (Protocol) of 1925 which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons, according to the OPCW.

In response to a question about how quickly the UN can act, if Syria agrees to a transfer of its alleged chemical weapons stock under international control, Mr. Ban said he is sure that the international community will take “very swift action” to make safely store and destroy the chemical weapons stocks.

Meanwhile, the biomedical and environmental samples taken by the UN chemical weapons inspection team have been undergoing analysis in Europe since last week.

Mr. Ban has said he would promptly share the results of the analyses with the 15-member Security Council and all 193 Member States.

Addressing journalists, the UN chief again reiterated the need to come together for a so-called Geneva II conference, which would include representatives of Syrian parties as well as senior United States, Russian and UN officials, to find a political path out of the crisis in the country.

A political solution “is the only viable option at this time”, Mr. Ban said, adding that he and Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, who was also in St. Petersburg, have been working very closely with Moscow and Washington to get all parties to the table.

The UN chief noted that Syria dominated the G20 talks “in a way no other political development has ever done.”

In addition to those discussions at the summit and on the sidelines, Mr. Ban said there was progress on growth, jobs, trade and investment.

Mr. Ban said he was “encouraged” by the response to this call for concentrated actions to achieve the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), define a global development agenda beyond 2015, and addressing climate change.

He looks forward to building on the G20 discussions at the high-level General Assembly debate later this month at the UN Headquarters in New York.

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses journalists at United Nations Headquarters. UN Photo/Mark Garten

 


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Urging political solution on Syria crisis, Ban warns of ‘tragic consequences’ of military action

_______________________________________________________________________

WAR_path_Peace2

malc X 4

| Let’s analyse Obama’s Case to Congress!

The Case to Congress ~ emptywheel.

malc X 4

As you’ve no doubt heard, President Obama gave a statement today in which he said he had decided to strike Syria. But then said he plans to have Congress approve the strike.

Here’s how the Administration plans to sell this to Congress:

And they detailed the coming campaign to get Congress on board:

  • Hammer home the potential threat to staunch ally Israel’s security
  • Provide detailed intelligence about the alleged attack
  • Underline that the United States ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, and make a case that American legitimacy — not just his own — is at stake.
  • Make the argument that failure to act could lead, one day, to terrorists acquiring chemical weapons from regimes like Assad’s — and turning them on America.

Item One: Assad’s alleged decision to use Chemical Weapons that he originally obtained to deter Israel against rebels presents “a potential threat to staunch ally Israel’s security.”

Item Two: In recent months, Israel has successfully struck at Syria twice, and Syria didn’t even try to retaliate. Why does the US have to take a stand for the norm against using CW, when the Israelis are perfectly capable of doing so. I get that Israel can never be viewed as a neutral party with Syria, they do have unrivaled ability to stand against the use of gas against civilians.

Item Three: The US ratified the Chemical Weapons Treaty. But Syria did not. In the same way that Israel didn’t sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Why do we expect Syria to abide by the former when we don’t require Israel to abide by the latter?

Item Four: A strike on Assad is likely to strengthen the Syrian rebels. Who are made up, increasingly, of a bunch of extremists with ties to al Qaeda. If we make it easier for the rebels to replace Assad, doesn’t that actually raise the likelihood terrorists will get Assad’s CW?

I’m glad the Administration has decided to go to Congress. But their argument is just as weak as it was.

_________________________________________________________________________

thoughtful4

US Barb2 no imp warA

 

| UK Govt ‘may sanction nerve-agent use on rioters’, scientists fear!

Government ‘may sanction nerve-agent use on rioters’, scientists fear

 

Leading neuroscientists believe that the UK Government may be about to sanction the development of nerve agents for British police that would be banned in warfare under an international treaty on chemical weapons.

A high-level group of experts has asked the Government to clarify its position on whether it intends to develop “incapacitating chemical agents” for a range of domestic uses that go beyond the limited use of chemical irritants such as CS gas for riot control.

The experts were commissioned by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, to investigate new developments in neuroscience that could be of use to the military. They concluded that the Government may be preparing to exploit a loophole in the Chemical Weapons Convention allowing the use of incapacitating chemical agents for domestic law enforcement.

The 1993 convention bans the development, stockpiling and use of nerve agents and other toxic chemicals by the military but there is an exemption for certain chemical agents that could be used for “peaceful” domestic purposes such as policing and riot control.

The British Government has traditionally taken the view that only a relatively mild class of irritant chemical agents that affect the eyes and respiratory tissues, such as CS gas, are exempt from the treaty, and then only strictly for use in riot control.

But the Royal Society working group says the Government shifted its position to allow the development of more severe chemical agents, such as the type of potentially dangerous nerve gases used by Russian security forces to end hostage sieges. “The development of incapacitating chemical agents, ostensibly for law-enforcement purposes, raises a number of concerns in the context of humanitarian and human-rights law, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” the report says.

“The UK Government should publish a statement on the reasons for its apparent recent shift in position on the interpretation of the CWC’s law enforcement position.” The Royal Society group points to a 1992 statement by Douglas Hogg, the then Foreign Office Minister, who indicated that riot-control agents were the only toxic chemicals that the UK considered to be permitted for law-enforcement purposes. But in 2009 ministers gave a less-restrictive definition suggesting the use of “incapacitating” chemical agents would be permitted for law-enforcement purposes as long as they were in the categories and quantities consistent with that permitted purpose.

Professor Rod Flower, a biochemical pharmacologist at Queen Mary University of London, said the latest scientific insights into human brain is leading to novel ways of degrading human performance using chemicals.