Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iraq yesterday submitted its ratification of the treaty banning chemical weapons at the United Nations, joining the list of countries - 186 with the addition of Iraq - that adhere to the chemical weapons convention promulgated by the UN in 1997.
According to Hamid al-Bayati, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, this reflects "the Iraqi government's will to cooperate with the international community," the determination to "remove the remnants and effects of the former regime and to work towards the stability of the Middle East." The decision has been hailed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, according to whom it "demonstrates [Iraq's] commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation" of unconventional weapons.
Al-Bayati stresses that the ratification is in accord with the Iraqi constitution, which requires respect for the convention on the non-proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons. The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations says that his country is determined "to participate in maintaining international peace and security."
The possession and production of chemical weapons was given as the main reason for the war launched by the United States against the former dictator Saddam Hussein, in 2003. In the past, the rais had often resorted to unconventional weapons to wipe out rebel groups or minorities contrary to the regime. In 1988, Saddam had ordered a massive campaign against Kurdish rebels in the north east of the country, blamed for supporting Iran at a time when Iraq was at war with the country. The use of chemical weapons during the offensive against the Kurds - nicknamed "al-Anfal," "the spoils of war" - killed tens of thousands of people. The most glaring case concerned the attack on the city of Halabja, during which it is estimated that more than 5,000 people were killed by gas.
Saddam's closest collaborators included his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed (in the photo), better known as "Chemical Ali," twice condemned to death for his role in the offensive against the Kurds. His execution has been delayed repeatedly because of conflicts inside the Iraqi government, and has yet to be carried out.
In April of 2003, the American military campaign led to the fall of the former rais and his capture a few months later. Investigations on the part of international observers did not find any evidence of chemical weapons production.