25 October 2013
Statement by Mr. Mostafa Shishechiha Deputy Director of Disarmament and International Security Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran
On: Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
At the Thematic Debate of the 68th Session of the First Committee
New York, 25 October 2013
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
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My delegation associates itself with the statement made by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The use of chemical weapons in Syria was a very heartbreaking incident. It revealed once again the horrific nature of these weapons and proved once more that we should spare no effort to abolish such inhumane weapons.
Any use of chemical weapons runs counter to the letter and spirit of the 1925 Protocol and CWC as well as the customary international law.
The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns in the strongest possible term the use of chemical weapons by anyone anywhere and under any circumstances.
Iran is the main victim of the use of chemical weapons in the contemporary history. As a result of more than 400 attacks with chemical warfare agents during the 8-year imposed war by Saddam against Iran from 1980 to 1988, more than 100,000 Iranian citizens were either martyred or injured. That includes more than 7000 injuries among civilians as a result of nearly 30 attacks to Iranian cities and villages.
In one instance, on 28 June 1987, Saddam’s warplanes unleashed sulfur mustard gas bombs on four residential areas of Sardasht, a town in the north-west of Iran. As a result, more than 130 unprotected civilians have been martyred and almost 5000 injured, who still continue to suffer from long-term complications. The anniversary of this tragedy is commemorated in Iran as the “National Day for Campaign against Chemical and Biological Weapons.”
Likewise, in 2010, the OPCW Executive Council invited the Director-General, on behalf of the OPCW, to convey annually on 28 June to the authorities and inhabitants of the city of Sardasht, a statement in memory of the chemical weapons attacks thereon, and to express sympathy for the victims.
In the implementation of that decision, in the past three years, OPCW Director-General made statements on the anniversary of this tragedy, and while conveying sincere sympathies to the authorities and people of the city of Sardasht, stated that “our hearts go out to those who continue to bear the painful consequences of exposure to chemical weapons”. He further reaffirmed our resolve to rid the world permanently from the threat of chemical weapons and to guarantee that chemical weapons are never used again.
Needless to say, that Saddam’s army could not produce these inhumane weapons without the assistance and support of other countries. According to the well-documented evidences, over 450 companies, mostly from western countries, including UK, France, Netherland, and the USA, were involved in the development of Saddam’s chemical weapons program.
Given that all of those companies were under scrutiny of their governments, they could not transfer chemical weapons precursors to Saddam without their governments’ blessing.
Indeed, the use of chemical warfare agents, in particular against civilians, mostly women and children, is a clear manifestation of war crime and crime of genocide. Indeed, those who had helped Saddam’s chemical weapons program are responsible for such crimes too.
Being aware of the inhumane nature of chemical weapons, Iran not only actively participated in the negotiations of the Chemical Weapons Convention, but was among the first countries that signed and ratified it.
Iran continues to strongly support the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of the Convention, in particular its Article XI. In this regard, Iran calls for the full implementation of the decisions on the subject by relevant decision-making organs of the OPCW.
My delegation also welcomes the successful conclusion of the third special session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Total destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles continues to remain the key objective of the CWC. In this context and as expressly reflected in the decisions of the policy-making organs of the OPCW, the major possessor States Parties in non-compliance with the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012, shall embark on sustained and accelerated efforts, within the framework of the CWC and its verification regimes, for full compliance with their obligations under the Convention.
As a result of such obvious non-compliance, the credibility and raison d’être of the Convention has seriously been challenged. Iran considers the non-compliance of major possessor State Parties with the 2012 final extended deadline for the total destruction of their chemical weapons as a setback in the operation of the Convention.
As a State party to all major international treaties banning weapons of mass destruction, Iran also attaches great importance to the Biological Weapons Convention. We fully support its objectives and call for its full, effective, balanced and non-discriminatory implementation, in particular its Article X which is essential to achieve the purposes of this Convention.
Likewise, we strongly call for the removal of arbitrary and politically motivated restrictions to and the systematic denial of the inalienable right of developing States Parties to exchange equipment, materials, technology, and know-how for the use of biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes. These are in contradiction with the letter and spirit as well as the object and purpose of the Convention.
We strongly support NAM position “on the importance of strengthening the Convention through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding Protocol”, which was unfortunately failed to conclude by the adversarial position of the US in 2001 after years of negotiations. We continue to believe that this very important issue should be addressed in order to explore ways and means to respond to the wish of international community on early conclusion of such an instrument.
The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates its belief in a total ban on the use of biological weapons, and in this connection, while appreciating the withdrawal of reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol by a number of States Parties, strongly supports NAM position in calling upon those States that continue to maintain reservations to this Protocol, to withdraw them without any further delay.
My delegation believes that in dealing with these horrifying weapons, all our efforts have to be directed at a noble objective that is to have a world free from all WMD.
In this context, universality of international legally-binding instruments banning WMD is of utmost importance. Therefore, States parties to these instruments should take serious actions to persuade non-parties to accede to these treaties without any further delay and precondition.
I wish to emphasize in this regard that, in their interactions with non-parties, States parties to these treaties should act in a manner to prove that being a party to such treaties is an advantage and being a non-party is a real disadvantage.
Needless to say that, introduction of disincentives for the non-parties to these Conventions and ceasing cooperation with them would encourage and facilitate the realization of the universality of these instruments.
In this context, we call upon all States parties to these treaties to remain fully committed to their obligations not to transfer to non-parties to such instruments, any equipment, materials, technologies, know-how and scientific and technological information which could be used in development of weapons of mass destruction.
In this regard, we express our profound concern at the biological cooperation between some BWC States parties with a non-party to this Convention, particularly cooperation between Canada and Israel. These cooperation is in contradiction with the object and purpose of the Convention and counterproductive in regard to its universality.
Seizing this opportunity, I welcome the accession of Syria to CWC. This indeed is a welcome development. I should stress that the Syrian government must be assisted by the UN and OPCW and the world community in fulfilling its obligations under the CWC.
At the same time, we wish to emphasize that the OPCW decisions regarding Syria that was adopted due to the unique situation in that country, shall in no way affect the rights and obligations of the CWC States Parties.
We believe that Syrian accession to CWC should be followed by others in its immediate neighborhood in order to further the noble objective of establishing a zone free from nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.