|P.K. Abdul Ghafour|
JEDDAH, 10 November 2007 — Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has approved an executive bylaw for the implementation of an international convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their destruction.
The issuance of a national law and an executive bylaw implementing the convention reflects Saudi Arabia's resolve to eradicate weapons of mass destruction. The new bylaw will be applied 90 days after its publication in the official Um Al-Qura gazette.
The chemical weapons law, which was passed by the Cabinet in 2005, prevents the development, production, possession, preservation, storage and transportation of chemical weapons. It also dictates that all chemical facilities must be accessible to inspectors.
Signatories of the convention are not allowed to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile and retain chemical weapons. Nor are they allowed to transfer and use, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons; engage in any type of military preparation to use chemical weapons; and assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited under this agreement.
According to Article 3 of the bylaw, the quantity of chemicals used for research, medical, pharmaceutical and preventive purposes should not exceed one metric ton.
Only approved government agencies are allowed to transport chemicals listed in the convention in and out of the country. However, government agencies should get prior permission from the Foreign Ministry to import or export any such chemicals.
"The ministry will study the applications within 30 days and pass them to the Interior Ministry to give its opinion within 60 days," the bylaw says.
A government agency that has received import permission must apply for the clearance of consignments 60 days before their arrival.
If approval is granted the ministry will send the clearance to the customs department 40 days before the arrival of the consignment. "The customs department is not allowed to clear such consignments without the ministry's clearance order," the law says.
Violators of the law could be fined between SR500,000 and SR1 million, or jailed between five years and 20 years or both. The law replaces measures taken in the past to implement the convention.
The Kingdom has also set up a national commission to implement the international pact. Prince Turki ibn Muhammad, assistant undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry for political affairs, is the chairman of the 14-member commission.