The Ecological Significance of Iran

On 11th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(From June 11th until June 14 th of 1992)
Interview with Dr. Kazem Moosavi-Zadeh, Director of Environment in Green Party of Iran
Interviewer,Mr. Arash Shams: Dr. Moosavi-Zadeh,
please make explanations in regard to the ecological significance of Iran

Dr. Moosavi-Zadeh: I deeply express my gratitude for the opportunity you have granted me to discuss and ponder about the Ecological Predicament of Iran under the Islamic Republic regime, and search for a discreet solution.  Especially whence this conversation’s timing concurs with the 11th anniversary of the International Environmental and World Countries’ Development Conference that was held in Brazil’s Rio in June 1992.  A conference held correlated with the most important subject in regard to the fate of humankind in the world in addition to the destiny of all other living being which in regard to, Iran is linked.  International societies are still apprehensive worldwide about relentlessly polluted air, ruptures in the Ozone Layer, acuteness of Global Warming, the planet earth’s heating up and gradual melt of the ice piles and mountains in the North pole, decline of the diversity in nature and the evident severe consequential changes in ecological units; also the troubles of supplying lives of the growing population and acute worldwide matters, intensification of war, terrorism, achievement and accumulation of mass destructive weapons are the jeopardizing and dreadful environmental factors involved.  We are observant that the conditions and dynamic effects of eco-destruction and exhaustion of our natural resources and assets of our country by the Islamic Republic regime has no national or geographical borderline, and in any case its resultant shall worsen the indicated environmental problems in the regional neighboring countries and on the level of the whole world.

But the vitality of your question relies on the true realm that since the last decades of the late precedent century (20th), the globalization of economy and capitalism has been in an extremely accelerated pace.  Many countries have very limited access minerals and raw materials that are necessitated for industry and production and their financial might and technological level, so mining and benefiting for them is literally out of their reach.  As a result, nations with high potential of wealth due to the natural supplies and mines and also in respect to quantity and quality of human resources and cultural angle, are all under the main focus of the changes that are occurring within economical policies and industries of capitalism, that is dependent on higher pace of production, more consumerism and reckless abuse of the natural resources.  Therefore we can envision that in the present century, the scale for higher strength and capacity shall be based on the environmental and ecological might as the core foundation of industrial and agricultural growth of the countries.  Well then you wonder what the ecological importance of Iran may be.  I can sum up by saying that on the imperative geopolitical and geographical conditions of Iran, in addition to the substantial size she has makes her function as the gate between the states near Caspian Sea, (known as Khazar or Mazandaran Sea in Farsi), Persian Gulf and the Middle East as a whole.  Since Iran is placed on the Palear ketik climate and its geological conditions, that has granted it variety of geographical fields of plants and animals and enriched assets of carbohydrate resources and a variety of mineral riches and potential elements that puts it in a high place in comparison with countries around the world and so forth.  Also, there is the possibility of finding more mineral resources in the future of oil and natural gas.  Hereby, I can list a group of natural resources exist:

400 billion cubic meters of Surface Water from down pouring rain,

97 billion cubic meters of water in rivers and surface currents,

18.5 million hectares agricultural lands (i.e. 1 hectare = 10 000 m2), 19 million hectares forests and groves, 90million hectares of pastures, 8 million hectares national part and conserved areas, fishing industry and its yearly product over 300 thousands of tons per year plus 35 million cubic meters of underground waters and mesh.

For example if we want to consider the financial value of Iranian natural riches, having 8 million hectares of a wide variety of earth pieces known as Forest Parks, Mountain and Forest conversation pieces, precious heritage of lagoons and national parks and conserved areas for wild life and endangered species and also lakes, ocean, rivers, etc. plus tourism industry on the national region and on the world scale have significant potentials in themes of growth and principled and scientific development.  At this juncture we are not talking about the numbers, geographical positions, general and particular conditions of various mines in Iran, since those matters are out of the boundary of this discussion.  But in general, in terms of Mineral varieties Iran is amongst the exceptional countries that have a very wide variety worldwide.  

According to the official statistics released by National Oil Company of Iran on the year 1989, excluding the new or undiscovered field, the whole quantity of Iranian Oil reserves were about 93 billion barrels.   Based on the estimation of the international centers and Oil Index Journal on the year 1991, if the level of Iran’s production remains under 3 million barrels per day continuously, Iran’s oil production shall be carried on for 90 years.  The latest international statistics presented in the magazine Oil, Gas Economist illustrates that the raw oil of Iran’s reserve exceeds 12263 million tons.  With exporting 159 million tons per year, Iran is the second oil exporting country, and the fourth on the international scale. Additionally the reserved source of retrievable natural gas and the liquid gas of Iran have been estimated to be

around 700 trillion cubic feet.  Therefore the rich potential natural

gas of Iran presents the resource of energy for better technologies which shall be much more important than her oil potentials.  The minister of oil in the Mullah’s regime Bijan Namdar Zangeneh had expressed the following for French New Agency on the date February 6th 2002: ”Currently Iran has 26.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas.  In having natural gas stock, after Russia, Iran is the second country in the world that possesses 17% of the world’s reserve.”  According to his statement half of Iran’s gas is on the soil part and still the chance of many more reserve minerals and riches exist in countries widely spread earth.  Based on the official statistics released in the year 1993, the number of 1228 non-metallic active mines exists on the countrywide scale.  Amongst them, the grand reserve of stones that construct and decorative buildings, marble stones, pebbles and sands, gypsum, cement, nutritional salt, etc. are notable in various areas of the country.

Iran possesses a very high rank worldwide for possessing massive metal mines such as iron, cast iron, copper, aluminum, zinc, chromites, manganese, molybdenum, uranium, silver, gold, platinum, nickel, tin, mercury, bauxite, tungsten, titanium, cadmium, antimony, etc. For example in regard to having copper reserves, Iran is placed on the Copper Belt of the world.  The sole established quantity of copper in Sarcheshmeh/ Kerman’s mine (that is one of the largest places of copper on the planet earth) is estimated to be over 1 billion and two hundred million tons. In regards to the lead reserves, Sorb-e-Angooran in Zanjan province is considering one of the largest lead reserves in the Middle East.

Perhaps it is necessitated to indicate that existence of the mines and hydrocarbon (fossil fuel) supply are the conditions and means that for Iran’s industrialization.  Those conditions that their parallel line can assure and guarantee growth, development and advancement and other segments of agriculture, Service Businesses and construction of the nation.

Arash Shams:  Mr. Moosavi-Zadeh, you have written substantial number of articles in regard to the damage and destruction imposed to Iranian ecology under this regime.  Please illustrate that for us.

Dr. Moosavi-Zadeh:  Base upon the statistic that are presented by the regime’s own media, during the last 24 years of the clergies’ theocracy ruling Iran has wasted the uppermost level of ecological, mineral and human resources in the world.  Since these are the data of regime’s own media and officials, naturally real numbers must be more than those released.  Let us look into some of those.  At the early times when Khomeini came into power, according to the 1979’s United Nation’s report our country were considered one of the richest ones due to the existing potentials of natural mineral resources; also she Iran were the sixth country in the world in terms of having a prospective on agricultural because of having potent soil.  At any rate by rational principled management of natural resources stocks, competence for copper and iron were estimated over 200 years and 120 years would go for coal, oil and natural gas.  Furthermore Iran has one of the greatest records of suffering brain draining among professionals, cultural and college field.  London’s Keyhan, one of the papers that is printed abroad had quoted an Economist expert of Tehran University who had called attention to the fact that the usage of natural gas and oil as the means of economical resource for Iran’s single item for exportation shall not exceed more than 20 other years.  Why? Let me quote directly the director of Islamic parliament (Majlis)’ Financial Commission whom on the date August 24th of 1993 had plainly said to the regime’s Keyhan newspaper that I exactly go over hereby: “Whilst the Ministry of Oil daily extracts 3 million barrels of oil, still it does not inject gas to the wells.  Thus great amount gets wasted and for the future it shall be useless and inaccessible.

The French magazine Loboen on December, 3 1999 had written: over 40 to 45 percent of non-oil economy, including 64 mines of raw materials and non-minerals and best lands and agricultural products of Iran are solely under the authority of “Boniad Mostazafan and Jon-bazaan” (Deprived and Combatants’ Foundation).  This institution is the largest economical business within the Middle Eastern.

It possesses 100s of nutritional materials, construction and petro-chemistry (Petroleum-Chemistry), 2786 properties and large building, 320 airplane businesses and sea squadrons, 90 cinemas, 250 credit and banking institutions and numerous magazine and newspaper publication companies.  The major segment of mining would go for silver, gold, plutonium, antiques and jewelry that are unique and one of all worldwide; plus complexes of: agriculture, industry, handcraft, carpets and thousands of cultivation terrains and most fruitful fruit gardens and great quality pistachios that are considered one of the largest economical set of facilities in the world; that is all in hands of “Boniad Mostazafan” under Mohsen Rafighdoost[1], and Rafsanjani[2] clan’s administration; and until now not a single audit has been presented by them.  Figuro Economic paper had estimated their financial income over 3.5 billion dollars per year as of December 21st 2000.

I’ll read you hereby from the Etelaat Newspaper dated as of October 7th of 1995:

Soil’s erosion (wearing out) goes around 4 billion tons per year, in addition to obliteration of the most fertile agricultural land pieces of the country that causes wasting away over 30400 billion Rials (3040 billion Toman[3]) of nutritional substances and dormant productivity of soil of the country.  On the 1992’s financial report of the Islamic Republic in regard to the country’s environment we read as the following:

In the previous year over 80% of the conserved areas and 50% of the wildlife preservation have lost their ecological qualities.  Between 50 to 80 percent of the wildlife headcount have terminated and the number of the endangered species are escalating.  Hamshahri Paper’s environmental seasonal special issues, number 2 of the 4th volume dated as of August 8th 1999 it has been inscribed that: in the past 15 thousands of wildlife’s variety existed that has reached the number of 150 types.  25% of mammals and 11% of birds are near complete extinction and the generations of Iranian jaguar and Lions are already almost thoroughly abolished.  One of the vital causes of the indicated matter is that within the previous years 500,000 hunting guns have been granted to the huntsmen and related responsible individuals.  On Sept 28th 2000, the head of preservations of Iranian rivers Hussein Serajzadeh told the Iranian news service that:  7 of international rivers in Iran have dried up due to the accumulation of garbage, irrational consumption of the animal and plant resources.  Hamshahri wrote in August 5th 1999 that: “Due to the fact that the industrial units’ waste enter into the Anzali River, yearly between 40 to 50 millions little fish are worn out, demised.

Regrettably we suffer both from pollution and shortage of water.   

As printed in Resalat paper dated as of September 18th 1995, assistant of the Jihad Department’s Educational Research Ali Amanpoor, has said that 50 billion cubic meters of valuable water, having rain as one of the resources are depleted.  The Energy Department’s vice-minister stated also had reported similarly to the Keyhan paper in 70’s Ordibehesht that: “70 percent of the surface and underground resources of the country are under various biological, chemical and other format of pollution. ”Mazandaran (Caspian) Sea is a great sewerage whence hospital and other sorts of litter are deposited in the sea”.  (Houshang Shirodi, Tonekabon City’s Hospital, quoted at the Thursday’s Weekly dated as of March 13th 1997)

Keyhan had quoted Rasul Zargar from the Water Organization’s Management, under Mullah Khatami’s administration saying:  “Only act of kindness and goodwill of the lord can end up Iran’s water shortage problems.”

I read from the Hamshahri newspaper dated as of October 8th 1995 that:  “due to the destructive phenomena of the desert expansion and demolition of agricultural lands has caused the evacuation of 80 percent of the village such as the ones on the border region of desert(s) and other areas.  A Forest Affair’s specialist had said such in the Salaam newspaper, dated as of January 14th 1997 that: “During the recent years forest trees have been razed out and given to the individual figures, institutions and governmental organizations.  Other means of Forest destruction include; quickly built structures governmental or state related within the forest areas, in addition to the fires that occur due to Military Maneuvers that are performed within the Jungle’s arenas.                              In this regard a senior expert has granted shocking statistics to the Hamshahri paper as of September 22nd 2000 that reads: within last 20 years the total of forests in Iran has decreased substantially:  In 56 existed 18 million hectares of Iranian Forests that has declined to 12 million hectares in 78. Well, such examples and facts and news are only a corner of the disturbing and fragile conditions of the environment in ecological terms and part of the wide range of devastative and irreversible harms occurring in our country under the Mullah Regime.  There are too many such examples available.

Salaam had written as of August 13th 1998 that: “According to the evaluation made by Iranian economy experts, if the rich resources and natural capital are used steadily and population control is kept on a constant level, yearly gross national income per capita will be 30,000 dollars”, said whilst average income of people under the Clergies theocracy comes down to around yearly to $500 per head, which puts us on the scale of the world economically poor countries.   For evaluation of the indicated professional economist it is needed to mention that in the year 1987, the average income of the people of rich countries of the world were such as, $18,530 in the U.S.A, $1,4430 in Germany and over $21,330 in Swiss.  With what has been said, we can conclude that considering the ecologically vital conditions and configuration in Iran, if there were a modern developing national democratic order instead of the Islamic Republic regime, undoubtedly if not blend into the first rank rich countries of the world, still our country would be on the peak of turning into one of the most important and rich countries of the world.  Also we should say that if we accept the scientific perspective and ecological factors, hence the humans of our nation is in an inseparable interaction with the nature of environment and therefore, quantity and quality of the setting and conditions of Iranian rich resources has played an imperative connection in the process of historical, cultural and humane changes and transformation and so it shall remain to be in the future.


[1] Used to be the head of the Passdaran – Guards of Islamic Revolution

[2] Hashemi Rafsanjani, ex-president, who did steeling and a lot of his policies that were allegedly liberal were similar to Neo Liberalism, i.e. the policies competent with the current desires of Neo Liberalism  imposed upon third world countries by privatizing national institution, etc.

[3] Each Toman equals to 10 Rials that are the officially known money of Iran for many years.