Jul 22, 2014, 9:36 AM
News Code: 2721985
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Iranians still suffer from chemical wounds

Tehran, July 22, IRNA - Hamid Salehi, a war veteran and victim of chemical weapons says that Iran is one of the biggest victims of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Salehi, who is the head of the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support (SCWVS), made the statement in an exclusive interview with Tuesday's edition of the English-language paper 'Iran Daily'.

Excerpts of the interview with Salehi follow:

Iran Daily: Could you please talk about the society and its objectives?

Salehi: The society is an NGO established in 2003 with the aim of providing tens of thousands of military and civilian victims of chemical attacks with medical, social, legal and cultural support.

The NGO tries to improve the life and health of these victims and their families, and raise awareness about the consequences of using chemical weapons against Iranians in the international arena.

Could tell us how you were injured by chemical weapons during the war?

I got injured four times in the war. The first three times were caused by bullets and shrapnel. But in 1985 and during Operation Dawn 8, which took place on the al-Faw Peninsula, the situation was different.

The region was very important for Iraq because it gave the country access to international waters. Therefore, it was ready to commit any crimes to keep it under control. During the operation, the Iraqi Army launched 15 chemical attacks against Iranian combatants. It was the time I sustained injuries and my body had burns all over.

My eyes were closed for two days. My eyes and lungs still hurt. I received a cornea transplant and my lungs become infectious with a simple cold.

What types of chemical weapons did the Ba’athist regime of Iraq used against Iran?

Iraq mainly used mustard and Sarin but it used nerve agent in several operations, including Iran’s Operation Dawn 10 (March 1988). Soldiers were not aware of exposure to the nerve agent in the first five hours but they gradually closed their eyes and began to get scalds on their bodies. Their lungs became infectious due to inhaling the toxic gas and they needed to have their eyes operated on for corneal transplant.

How many times did the Iraqi Army use chemical

weapons against Iranians?

Iran and Iraq have a border of approximately 1,250 kilometers and the Ba’athist regime launched more than 400 chemical attacks against Iranian military forces and civilians. These weapons were mainly used in major operations.

Moreover, many border cities and towns like Sardasht, Baneh, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Ilam and Mehran also came under chemical attacks. Many people were exposed to toxic gases, but only 75,000 individuals were confirmed and registered as victims. These crimes occurred while Iraq was one of the signatories to the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, known as the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.

Iran joined the protocol and Iraq signed it in 1931 in the wake of World War I. Saddam’s Western supporters accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuke and Weapons of Mass Destruction while the country is one of the world’s biggest victim of WMDs and chemical weapons.

What measures have you taken to support victims of chemical attacks?

Iraq used unconventional weapons against Iran during the imposed war which was unprecedented. Chemical weapons were never used in any war after WWI even during WWII.

Even people like Hitler, who are known for their cruelty, were committed not to use chemical weapons. The US used herbicides (agent orange) during the Vietnam War, but it says the killers were sprayed as part of an aerial program to defoliate rural/forested land, depriving guerrillas of food and cover, and clearing sensitive areas such as base perimeters.

The US also dropped nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, but chemical weapons and Sarin were first used after WW1 by Iraq against Iran.

The issue has not received enough attention in the postwar era. The disaster was so horrible and should have been dealt in a better way. The victims are still grappling with their painful sufferings and various diseases.

The authorities must tell the world Iran is a major victim of chemical weapons.