Chemical terrorism now a reality: Russian FM

Source:  Daily Times Published in Terrorism on Tuesday, March 01, 2016

MOSCOW - Chemical terrorism is now a reality, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes, as extremists from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups now possess the technical capabilities to produce ‘proper chemical war agents’.

The threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-government groups is widely recognised - the Russian foreign minister said – the Russia Today channel reported on Tuesday.

The issue emerged in light of evidence that militants from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups not only repeatedly used “toxic industrial chemicals”, but also “proper chemical warfare agents”, Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, there is intelligence about terrorist groups acquiring access to scientific and technical documentation for the production of chemical weapons, and seizing equipment needed for such production. This involves foreign specialists in order to master the synthesis of chemical warfare agents.

Lavrov mentioned incidents in the town of Marea, 25 kilometers north of Aleppo in northern Syria in August-September 2015.

In October, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a report, saying that mustard gas had been used during fighting between the Islamic State and other militant groups in Marea. The gas is known to cause severe delayed burns to the eyes, skin and lungs.

“It leaves no room for doubt that chemical terrorism is now turning from an abstract threat to a harsh reality, which can and should be stopped by intensifying serious work at an international level,” the Russian diplomat said.

Lavrov suggested developing a separate convention to counter acts of chemical terrorism. According to the minister, the current norms of international law “don’t solve the problem of forbidding the use of chemical weapons by non-governmental organisations”.