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Watchdog warns Russian invasion of Ukraine war increases chemical weapons threat

In this Saturday, May 20, 2000 file photo, two Russian soldiers make a routine check of metal containers with toxic agents at a chemical weapons storage site in the town of Gorny, 124 miles south of the Volga River city of Saratov, Russia. (AP Photo, File)
In this Saturday, May 20, 2000 file photo, two Russian soldiers make a routine check of metal containers with toxic agents at a chemical weapons storage site in the town of Gorny, 124 miles south of the Volga River city of Saratov, Russia. (AP Photo, File)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the threat from weapons of mass destruction including chemical munitions, the head of the world’s toxic arms watchdog says.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine, its chief Fernando Arias tells the regulator’s annual meeting.

“The situation in Ukraine has again increased the real threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons,” Arias says at The Hague.

“It has exacerbated existing tensions to a point where unity of the international community on common global challenges related to international security and peace cannot be presumed.”

International disarmament bodies like the Nobel Peace Prize-winning OPCW “now have become places for confrontation and disagreement,” Arias laments.

Threats and allegations about the possible use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been traded since the war in Ukraine began in February, but with no evidence they have been deployed.

Arias reminded Russia and Ukraine that they were among 193 countries that have “have solemnly and voluntarily committed never under any circumstances to… use chemical weapons.”

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