[JURIST] Iraq will join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [materials] and become a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website], according to a Monday statement from the office of Iraqi President Jalal Talibani [BBC profile]. According to the statement, the Presidency Council of Iraq Monday agreed to back a law passed by the Iraqi Parliament that would make the country a signatory of the agreement. The CWC prohibits the use or undeclared storage of chemical weapons by member nations. Talabani's office said that joining the convention will allow Iraq to seek help from other members in eradicating environmental problems caused by the use of chemical weapons during the 1988 Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder] against ethnic Kurds.
The OPCW has 182 members [OPCW list], including Iran, but 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 (NPT) [PDF text]. The OPCW was formed by the CWC in 1997. Under the convention, banned weapons, including nerve and mustard gases, must be destroyed by June 2007, though countries may apply for a five-year extension. Six countries [OPCW list] have signed the CWC but have not yet ratified it. AFP has more.