Salehi: Iran supports campaign for total eradication of chemical weapons

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran strongly supports the campaign to eradicate all chemical weapons on the planet.

He made the remarks during a speech at a high-level meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.

Noting that Iran is one of the world’s major victims of chemical weapons, Salehi said the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) can make an important contribution to the campaign for world peace and efforts to maintain international security.

The Iranian foreign minister stated that the Islamic Republic, which recently assumed the rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement, will make every effort to ensure the 15-year-old convention is effectively implemented.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also addressed the UN meeting, saying the threat of chemical weapons must be totally and permanently eradicated across the world.

He also mentioned Iraq’s frequent use of chemical weapons against Iran during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

In one of the worst attacks, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered the use of sulfur mustard gas bombs on Sardasht in the northwestern Iranian province of West Azarbaijan on June 28, 1987.

The city was attacked by four bombs containing 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of mustard gas. The bombs were dropped on the densely populated town center.

Sardasht was the third populated city in the world, after Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to be deliberately targeted with weapons of mass destruction. It was also the first town in the world to be attacked with poison gas.

The chemical weapons attack killed over 100 Iranian civilians and injured hundreds of others.

The actual death toll, however, is far greater. Nearly 5,000 residents of the town, which had a population of 20,000 at the time of the attack, are still suffering from serious respiratory and skin ailments and diseases.

Nearly 100,000 Iranians were affected by nerve and mustard gases during the war, and around one in 10 died before receiving any treatment. About five to six thousand are still receiving medical treatment.

Based in The Hague, the OPCW is the implementing body of the CWC. The OPCW is given the mandate to achieve the object and purpose of the convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those for international verification of compliance with it, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among states parties.

The convention — which is marking its 15th anniversary this year along with the OPCW — now has 188 states parties. Three-quarters of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles of the world have been eliminated so far.

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