HC Deb 27 June 1984 vol 62 cc985-6
10. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assurances he has been able to obtain from the Iraqi Government that they will cease using chemical weapons in the war with Iran; and whether he has made representations to them following evidence of injuries suffered by a British subject, Mr. Benford, a British Broadcasting Corporation sound recordist, who was exposed to nerve gas while attempting to cover the war in Iran.

Mr. Luce

We regret the injuries suffered by Mr. Bedford. We have already made clear to both sides in the Gulf conflict our strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons.

Mr. Mikardo

I thank the Under-Secretary for that reply. In view of the fact that this is the first verified and significant use of these weapons anywhere in the world for more than half a century, and because the prospect of the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is almost as terrifying as the prospect of the escalation of nuclear weapons, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether Her Majesty's Government, together with other friendly Governments, ought to be seeking to exercise even more influence than they have so far sought to exercise to persuade both sides in this horrendous war to forsake the use of such weapons?

Mr. Luce

I share the hon. Gentleman's views. We have strongly condemned the use of these weapons, and the Governments of both Iran and Iraq are aware of our view. We totally condemn the use of chemical weapons.

In answer to the earlier part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I should add that there is some evidence that chemical weapons have been used in other parts of the world, including south-east Asia. We are therefore taking a strong lead in the negotiations for a comprehensive agreement at Geneva.