Commenting on the March 4, 2018 incident involving the use of toxic chemical - allegedly a nerve agent - in Salisbury, UK, during the 59th Meeting of the Executive Council of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was convened at the request of the United Kingdom, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the OPCW, Venu Rajamony, said, "India has taken note of the report submitted after the technical assistance visit. India's position on chemical weapons is clear and consistent. Any use of chemical weapons is in complete disregard of humanity, and is reprehensible and contrary to the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as accepted international legal norms.
Ambassador Rajamony further said, "All investigations of alleged use of chemical weapons should be conducted strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and all provisions of the CWC should be utilised to reach evidence based conclusions. India is against the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances.
He said that the CWC is a unique non-discriminatory multilateral instrument which continues to serve as a model disarmament treaty.
"It is important to maintain the credibility and integrity of the convention. India, has therefore, maintained that all investigations of alleged use of chemical weapons should be conducted strictly in accordance with the provisions of the convention. India also urges that all provisions of the convention be utilized to address concerns in accordance with the procedures laid down in the convention, so as to reach evidence based conclusions," Rajamony said in his statement.
It may be recalled that the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland had requested the OPCW for technical assistance under sub-paragraph 38 (e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, in relation to an incident in Salisbury that took place on March 4, 2018 involving a toxic chemical - allegedly a nerve agent - and the poisoning and hospitalisation of three individuals.
The OPCW team worked independently and was not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities. No state party was involved in the technical work carried out by the OPCW Technical Secretariat.
As per media reports, work to decontaminate the 11 sites has begun. These sites are as follows:
The Maltings, Zizzi Restaurant, The Mill (a pub), Salisbury ambulance Station, Amesbury ambulance Station, Ashley Wood compound on Churchfields, Police officer Nick Bailey's home in Alderholt, Sergie Skripal's home in Christie Miller road, Two areas of Bourne Hill and Maltings Cordon Russian Spy.
A spokesman for the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the department is supervising the clean-up operation, and confirmed that nine of the eleven sites will need what he described as "specialist cleaning" in the wake two of three people being declared as having been poisoned.
The decontamination group is being led by DEFRA's Chief Scientific Adviser Ian Boyd, media reports said.
Boyd was quoted, as saying this week that investigations and decontamination would be carried out with the help of the "best scientific evidence and advice", and carefully.
He added that the priority is to make Salisbury liveable for the general public again.
Government officials have been quoted, as saying that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was delivered "in a liquid form."
In a press conference on April 17, they revealed the Skripal's home in Salisbury was targeted with a "very small amount of Novichok."
The highest concentration was found at the property in Christie Miller Road, and a further eight areas were potentially contaminated.
"Meticulous work is required and we expect it will be a number of months before sites are fully reopened," they were quoted, as saying.
Apart from the specialists of DEFRA, about 190 specialist military personnel from the British Army and the Royal Air Force have been roped in to assist in the decontamination operation.
OPCW designated laboratories are a lynchpin of the organisation's verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons.
As the implementing body for the CWC, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the CWC's entry into force in 1997 - and with its 192 States Parties - it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96 percent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. (ANI with inputs)