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New Delhi.– India has destroyed more than 75 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile and is committed to eliminating the balance by 2009, an authoritative journal says.

"By the end of 2006, India had destroyed more than 75 percent of its chemical weapons/material stockpile and was granted extension for destroying (the remaining stocks by April 2009) and is expected to achieve 100 percent destruction within this timeframe," CBW Magazine says.

The journal on chemical and biological weapons is published by the defence ministry funded think tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

"Up to date all destruction by India has been carried out under the watchful eyes of OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors and will also be done in future," the journal says.

"The cause for the delay (in destroying the remaining stocks) is essentially because the process of destruction is very slow and we need to take adequate precautions from (the) point of view of personnel (and) environmental pollution," the journal points out.

After denying the possession of chemical weapons for years, India in June 1997 declared a stockpile of 1,044 tonnes of sulphur mustard. At that time, less than two percent of the chemical was filled into artillery shells and the remainder stored in bulk containers.

India's declaration came after the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that created the OPCW. On Jan 14, 1993 India become an original signatory to the CWC.

By 2005, from among the six nations that had declared possession of chemical weapons, "India was the only one to meet its deadline for chemical weapons destruction and for inspection of its facilities by the OPCW", the journal points out.

Domestically, India has "taken all efforts" to strengthen its commitment to the CWC by enacting the CWC Act 2000, the journal says. India also has a well-established export control mechanism in place with updated guidelines relating to items categories as special chemicals, organisms, materials, equipment and technologies (SCOMET).

CWC has won support from 183 UN member nations covering 98 percent of the global population.

Six countries –Bahamas, Congo, Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Israel and Myanmar– have signed but not ratified the convention. Seven countries - Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and Syria - are not party to the convention.

India, the US, Russia, Albania, Libya and a "state party" –possibly South Korea– have declared the possession of nuclear weapons.

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