The implementing body of an international pact that bans nuclear weapons testing suggested that Syria could finally sign the treaty following Damascus' recent announcement it would join another accord that prohibits chemical weapons usage, ITAR-Tass reported on Wednesday.
Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, said he discussed Syria's possible joining of the pact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"We should search for a certain platform for Syria in order to create trusting conditions for our work," the executive secretary said. "If Syria showed its will and readiness to join the CTBT, it would be very important for our work and for the functioning of the treaty in order to promote the common goal -- to create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East."
Syria is not one of the eight advanced atomic nations whose ratification of the test ban treaty is necessary for it to be implemented. Still, Damascus' past suspected development of an illicit nuclear program with weapon applications and its widely assumed large-scale August chemical weapons attack would make its joining of the CTBT accord particularly noteworthy.
The treaty has thus far been ratified by 161 nations, with Iraq becoming the most recent country to fully join the accord on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
Iraq formalized its accedence to the treaty at U.N. headquarters. Zerbo said Baghdad's actions would also support the goal of establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was secretly developing nuclear weapons though it never tested one. The country's nuclear arms effort came to an end after the first Gulf War.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.