Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the US and Israel are main impediments to establishment of a WMD-free Middle East, urging the international community to guarantee annihilation of Israel’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Zarif made the remarks in a message on the 31st anniversary of the chemical bombardment of the northwestern Iranian city of Sardasht during the imposed war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Iran commemorates the occasion as the National Day of Fighting Chemical and Biological Weapons.
“Through their opposition to the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, the two aggressive and notorious regimes of America and Israel shoulder the global responsibility for the lingering shadow of these inhumane weapons in this sensitive region and must be taken to task and condemned by the international community,” Iran’s top diplomat said.
Zarif added, “Annihilation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of the Zionist regime, as the biggest threat to security of the region and the world, must be guaranteed through coordinated pressure from the international community.”
The US, the Iranian minister said, “has so far refused to abide by its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and blatantly violates it,” adding that “Iran as an active member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) wants the US to honor its obligations under the convention and fully annihilate its chemical stockpile under international supervision.
The top Iranian diplomat further stated that terrorist groups such as Daesh, which are still active in the region, are equipped with poisonous material and chemical arms and have used such internationally-banned weapons during their campaign of violence in Syria and Iraq.
Since 2011, when a foreign-backed crisis broke out in Syria, numerous reports have emerged of chemical attacks across the Arab country.
The US, along its Western allies, usually rush to blame the Syrian government for such alleged chemical attacks before the launch of any OPCW investigation.
Damascus, which saw its entire chemical arsenal destroyed in 2013 under the supervision of the OPCW and the UN, has sharply rejected any use of chemical arms, describing such attacks as false-flag operations by the militants operating in the country as the West’s proxies.
The Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences has called on the UN to resolve ambiguities surrounding a recent alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Douma.
Syria also says the US uses the issue of chemical weapons as a pretext to carry out military assaults against the Arab country.
Zarif added that Iran, as a major victim of chemical weapons, once again condemns “any recourse to weapons of mass destruction anywhere, by any party and under any circumstances.”
He also slammed certain Western states for their “double standards” in addressing the issue of weapons of mass destruction as well as the “politicization” of the OPCW, the world’s leading chemical watchdog.
“The international community should shoulder its responsibility in dealing with this issue, so it would not witness a repeat of the tragedies in Sardasht and Halabja,” Zarif wrote.
OPCW’s future in doubt
Zarif’s message comes a day after the OPCW gained new contentious powers to apportion blame for chemical attacks under a Britain-drafted proposal despite opposition from Russia and Syria, which argued that the move went beyond the mandate of the international watchdog.
OPCW member states voted 82-24 in favor of a British-led proposal affirming the agency should go beyond determining whether a banned weapon had been used.
The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the measure, saying Moscow doubts whether the CWC and the OPCW could be preserved after the expansion of its mandate.