Every year on 28 June, we come together to mourn the men and women who perished and those who continue to suffer the terrible after-effects of the chemical attack on the Iranian town of Sardasht. The name Sardasht, like Ieper and Halabja, has become a powerful reminder to the international community that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated – not then, not now, not ever.
As we take a moment to remember this devastating attack thirty-one years ago, I wish to offer the solidarity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the victims who died in such agony and our condolences to their families.
Regrettably, the legacy of Sardasht has not been heeded by all. Today, we still witness to the persistent use of toxic chemicals as weapons. Defending the norms underpinned by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires constant vigilance. Any action that violates the Convention and undermines the global norm against chemical weapons must be universally condemned in the strongest possible terms.
For twenty-one years the CWC has provided unequalled protection to the vast majority of the men, women, and children of this world against an entire category of WMDs. Allowing the use of chemical weapons to go unchallenged erodes that protection and undermines international peace and security.
In response, the international community must recommit itself to upholding the obligation to rid the world of this horrendous weapon that causes indiscriminate suffering. The people of Sardasht would expect no less – nor should we. Working in the spirit of cooperation, our goal must be to strive and achieve a world permanently free of chemical weapons.