Israel, North Korea, Egypt urged to join chemical arms treaty

The international chemical weapons watchdog is urging nations including Israel, North Korea and Egypt to sign the chemical arms treaty, and get rid of their alleged arsenals. 

Ahmet Uzumcu, who heads the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said countries including South Sudan, Myanmar and Angola were ready to join the convention. That should be motivation, he said, for others to sign on.

"Now since Syria has become a member country, I think [Israel] can reconsider," Uzumcu told Reuters in Norway on Tuesday.

He was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, which was awarded to OPCW this year.

Syria formally joined the chemical weapons convention in October, bowing to pressure from Russia and the United States after a spate of deadly chemical weapons attacks was discovered during the country’s civil war. 

Israel has never publicly acknowledged having a chemical weapons stockpile. In September, however, its Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel would address the issue once there’s peace in the Middle East.

In 1993, Israel signed the pact, which gave them observer status, but the government never ratified it.  

"I don't see any excuse for not joining the convention," the OPCW’s Uzumcu said. "Three [nations] are very close to membership and I hope the others will reconsider their positions."