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Friday, June 2, 2023

As biological weapons in Ukraine labs issue gets messier, Bharat says abide by global treaty

As the war of words between the United States and Russia intensifies on the implementation of military biological programmes on the territory of Ukraine, Bharat has underlined the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) as a key global and non-discriminatory disarmament Convention which prohibits an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.

At a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) emergency meeting called to address related concerns in the conflict zone on Friday, Bharat said that it has noted the recent statements from States and wider information regarding biological activities relating to Ukraine.

“It is important to ensure full and effective implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in letter and spirit. We also believe that any matters relating to obligations under the BTWC should be addressed as per the provisions of the Convention, and through consultation and cooperation between the parties concerned,” said India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti.

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons. It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

“Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants. They can be deadly and highly contagious. Diseases caused by such weapons would not confine themselves to national borders and could spread rapidly around the world,” states the UN.

It insists that the BWC is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address WMD proliferation and has established a strong norm against biological weapons with the Convention reaching almost universal membership with 183 States Parties and four Signatory States.

Earlier this week, Moscow had said that the Russian Defence Ministry continues to study materials on the implementation of military biological programs of the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine.

The Kremlin revealed that information received from various sources confirms the leading role of the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency in financing and conducting military biological research on the territory of Ukraine.

It said that details of the UP-4 project became known, which was implemented with the participation of laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa and was designed for the period up to 2020.

“Its purpose was to study the possibility of the spread of particularly dangerous infections through migrating birds, including highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza, the mortality rate of which reaches 50 percent for humans, as well as Newcastle disease,” it said while releasing “updates on results of analysis of documents related to military biological activities of the US in Ukraine”.

The US had immediately rubbished the claims, saying that the “Russian disinformation is total nonsense” with the Chinese officials also echoing these “conspiracy theories”.

“The United States does not own or operate any chemical or biological laboratories in Ukraine, it is in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, and it does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere,” the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Wednesday.

Russia also distributed a national document “on the issue of possible chemical provocations in Ukraine” at the UNSC on Friday.

It said that Ukrainian radical groups, “under the control of representatives of the American intelligence services”, have prepared several possible scenarios for the use of toxic chemicals to carry out various kinds of provocations.

Insisting that the purpose of such actions is to accuse Russia of using chemical weapons against the civilian population and violating its obligations, Moscow revealed that on the night of March 9, Ukrainian nationalists brought 80 tonnes of ammonia to the village of Zolochiv northwest of Kharkov.

“According to information coming directly from the scene, the radicals are instructing the civilian population on how to behave in the zone of chemical contamination. We inform the States Parties to the Convention that such preparations clearly indicate preparations for the use of toxic chemicals,” the document stated.

Meanwhile, Bharat also expressed its concern over the ongoing situation in Ukraine, reiterating that dialogue will lead to the ending of hostilities.

“We sincerely hope the ongoing direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine would lead to cessation of hostilities. There is no other alternative except the path of diplomacy and dialogue. The dire humanitarian situation needs immediate and urgent attention,” said Tirumurti at the UNSC meeting.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline and minor edits to conform to Hindu-Post style-guide.)

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