Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has reiterated the Islamic Republic’s long-held position against the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), calling for a world free of nuclear arms.
“Iran, as the biggest victim of chemical weapons, has always sought a world free of the threat, production and use of weapons of mass destruction including chemical arms,” Araqchi said on Monday.
He made the remarks in a meeting with Ahmet Uzumcu, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague on the sidelines of the 18th Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Araqchi stated.
He welcomed Syria’s cooperation with OPCW and expressed hope that the country’s joining the CWC would lead others, particularly the Israeli regime, to join the convention and dismantle their WMD stockpiles.
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said on September 12 that his country became a full member of the international treaty prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
On the same day, the United Nations also confirmed that it had received documents from Syria on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention.
On December 1, Head of the joint UN-OPCW team, Sigrid Kaag, said there has been a progress in the destruction of Syria’s chemical arms.
“We have been able to verify and inspect the functional destruction of chemical weapons facilities … warheads, and all that requires to run a chemical weapons program,” Kaag said.
Israel is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, with estimated 200-400 nuclear warheads.
The Israeli regime rejects all regulatory international nuclear agreements, particularly the NPT, and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.
The Iranian official further stressed the importance of accelerating international efforts to peacefully use chemical materials and equipment and to remove illegal limitations in this regard.
Araqchi also called for paying more attention to needs and problems of victims of chemical weapons.
The OPCW director general, for his part, said Iran has always cooperated with the organization and has been an active and effective member of the OPCW.
On Monday, the OPCW opened its week-long Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, whose agenda is topped by getting Syrian chemical stockpiles out of the country by the year-end for final destruction.
The conference is held at a time when the organization is in the process of removing Syrian chemical stockpiles from the country before the December 31 deadline.
Iran’s Araqchi is taking part at the conference representing the Islamic Republic as the rotating chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Iran is a major victim of chemical weapons, with the northwestern city of Sardasht being the main target of Iraq’s chemical bombardments during the imposed eight-year Iraqi war on the country. Sardasht was attacked with mustard gas bombs twice.
More than 100 people were killed in the strikes; however, the actual number of the victims is much higher as many survivors exposed to the chemical weapons have been suffering from serious health conditions, including severe respiratory problems and skin disorders, ever since.