A U.N. team of chemical warfare experts arrived in Tehran Friday to investigate charges of Iraqi chemical-weapon attacks on Iran while cease-fire talks on the Iran-Iraq war were under way in New York.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said the team will investigate an Iranian complaint that Iraqi warplanes wounded more than 1,000 civilians when they dropped chemical bombs last week on a border town.The team included Dr Erik Bahlgren of Sweden, Col. Ulrich Imobersteg of Switzerland, Dr. At Van Heist of the Netherlands and Geneva-based Vincente Berasategui.
At the United Nations in New York, a spokesman said Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar decided to send the team to Tehran after a request by Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who was at the truce talks last week.
On Monday, Iran and Iraq accepted a cease-fire proposal to end eight years of fighting Aug. 20 and begin peace talks in Geneva five days later.
Velayati said in a U.N. document that Iraqi forces dropped chemical bombs Aug. 2 containing lethal mustard gas on eight locations in Oshnavieh, some some 440 miles northwest of Baghdad. Iran alleged the attack wounded 1,013 civilians.
Although Iran's acceptance of U.N. Resolution 598 led to the cease-fire agreement, Iranian President Ali Khamenei warned his countrymen Thursday that they should not consider the war with Iraq "definitely" over.
He made the remarks at ceremonies in which he received public donations of "tens of millions of rials" (hundreds of thousands of dollars), gold ornaments and gold coins as "assistance for the battlefront."
Two days earlier, Iranian strongman Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, ordered Iranian troops to cease firing along the 700-mile front.
Since Monday there have been no reports of firing along the front as both Tehran and Baghdad prepared for the arrival three days before the cease-fire goes into effect of a 350-member U.N. force that will supervise the truce. Two advance teams arrived in the two capitals Wednesday to lay the groundwork for the force.
The Security Council on Thursday approved Gen. Slavko Jovic, 58, of Yugoslavia as head of the force. The force will cost $74 million for six months. The General Assembly is reconvening Tuesday to assess the costs of the military observer group to its members.
The Security Council approved Wednesday a list of 24 countries that will contribute military officers to supervise the cease-fire. U.N. spokesman Francis Giuliani said each country will send 10 to 15 military officers to work for the U.N. Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group.