Thirty years ago, on 28 June 1987, peaceful citizens of the Iranian township of Sardasht became the victims of an atrocious chemical weapons attack.
This terrible day brought death, pain and suffering to the residents of Sardasht. Many of them perished. The lives of those who survived were forever altered by the scars of their injuries, and the loss of their loved ones.
On behalf of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), I convey our deepest condolences to the people of Sardasht and our continued assurance of support, as we observe this solemn anniversary.
Unfortunately, this is one of too many tragedies that brought global attention to the horrific potential of chemical weapons, and impelled an international dialogue on the need to rid the world of this terrible scourge.
Ten years after Sardasht, this dialogue culminated with a global ban on chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the founding of the OPCW.
This year marks 20 years of implementing the CWC. The Convention represents a unique international effort to permanently abolish an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
While we are closer to ridding the world of chemical weapons, these milestone anniversaries serve as reminders to all for the need to re-commit to these efforts. The reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq are disturbing. The global norm against chemical weapons must be continually reinforced if we are to achieve full and lasting eradication, and so ensure tragedies such as Sardasht are not repeated.
During my time as Director-General of the OPCW, the plight of all victims of chemical weapons has been close to my heart. I will pay tribute to these victims during my upcoming visit to Iran, where I will meet survivors from the Sardasht attack. I am honoured to take part in a solemn ceremony dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the CWC and the 30th anniversary of the Sardasht attack.
We must and will continue to do everything in our power to prevent anyone from using chemicals as a weapon. We owe this to our children, to the victims of Sardasht, and to all those who have suffered as a result of these heinous weapons.