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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Annan calls on States to reaffirm ban on Biological, Chemical Weapons

5 December 2005 On the thirtieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and ahead of next year's review conference, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on States Parties to reaffirm the ban on such weapons and address their possible use by terrorists.

"It is increasingly understood that bolstering the biological security regime has become a matter of tremendous importance for global health and international peace and security," Mr. Annan said in a message delivered by delivered by Enrique Roman-Morey, Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, to the Geneva meeting.

Mr. Annan noted that in this 60th anniversary year of the UN, the international community marks the anniversaries of two major treaties addressing the terrible threat posed by biological weapons – the Geneva Protocol and the Convention on biological and chemical weapons.

The latter treaty remains at least as relevant today, given recent developments, he said. "There has never been more urgent need for international commitment to the universal application and full compliance with the Convention."

At the same time that terrorists may seek to use such weapons, rapid developments in science may create more dangerous biological and toxic agents. Mr. Annan said that discussions on the scientific Code of Conduct at the meeting could strengthen the Convention.

"Developments in the life sciences in the years ahead will no doubt bring remarkable benefits, but they may also carry with them, as an almost inevitable corollary, considerable dangers" he said.

As for the Geneva Protocol, its importance is that it represents an early ban on the weapons; it should no longer be controversial. "It is therefore appropriate to take this opportunity to call on the countries that still maintain reservations to the Protocol to withdraw them, since other conventions agreed to since then have rendered them obsolete," he said.

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