Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yemen Denies Chemical-Weapon Accusations

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yemeni Ambassador to the Netherlands Najib Obaid denied that security forces last week used a chemical warfare material against antigovernment demonstrators, the Yemen News Agency reported on Tuesday (see GSN, March 10).

In a meeting with Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Üzümcü, Obaid dismissed claims by several doctors in the capital of Sanaa that they treated protesters who displayed symptoms indicating exposure to some form of nerve agent.

Obaid told Üzümcü that government security forces used legal CN and CS varieties of tear gas to disperse the protesters. The Chemical Weapons Convention allows for use of riot-control agents for law enforcement purposes but not as a "method of warfare."

The Yemeni diplomat said a committee established by the Public Health and Population Ministry examined the hurt protesters and determined they had not been exposed to poisonous agents. Additionally, Sanaa has officially requested the World Health Organization dispatch specialists to study the alleged incidents of nerve agent exposure, Obaid said.

Yemen ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2000. The pact bars signatories from manufacturing, possessing, transporting or using chemical weapons such as sarin nerve agent and mustard blister gas (Yemen News Agency, March 15).

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