Iran will take all legal measures to tackle issue of dust storms: official

May 27, 2012 - 16:38
TEHRAN – The director of the Environmental Protection Organization has said that Iran will take all the measures necessary to pursue the issue of dust storms originating from Iraq through legal channels. 
Mohammad Javad Mohammadizadeh made the remarks on Sunday as a new wave of heavy dust storms has hit western and southwestern provinces of Iran over the past few days, making breathing difficult for people. 
The Iranian official also criticized the Iraqi government for failing to fulfill its commitments in regard to the issue of dust storms. 
He said that Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, during his recent meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Tehran, urged Iraq to step up efforts to help resolve the issue.  
In addition, he said that Iran has held talks with the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and asked him to increase international pressure on Iraq to compel the country to perform its duties. 
Experts say dust storms descend on Iran from the deserts and dried-up ponds of Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Many ponds which were once located in the arid and desert regions stretching from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to Iran have gone dry over the years. 
This ongoing desertification process has greatly increased the number of dust storms in the region, and every year heavy dust storms envelope more than half of the country.
In 2009, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement according to which Iraq should have poured oil derivative mulch on deserts, but Iraq did not fulfill its commitment.
Later, a number of lawmakers representing constituencies in southern and western Iran lodged a motion warning the foreign minister and the president about the recurrent dust storms afflicting citizens in those areas. 
However, the government so far has not taken any serious measure to tackle the issue.