Also available in: Arabic
News Release No:2005/489/MNA
Sereen Juma (202) 473-7199
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2005 — The World Bank today approved a total of $344 million in loans for two projects that support the Government of Iran in delivering a clean and reliable water supply and sanitation to poor urban neighborhoods and boosting agricultural productivity in farming communities with improved irrigation systems.
About 98 percent of the urban population in Iran is connected to public water supplies, but only 23 percent have access to public sanitary sewerage. In the cities of Rasht, Babol, Sari and Anzali along the Caspian Coast in the north, the sewerage system is underdeveloped with wastewater discharged to ditches and rivers as well as natural water bodies running through these cities, such as the Anzali Lagoon, an internationally recognized wetland. As a result, the water supply is polluted and the environment unhealthy, posing a health risk to the one million residents in these cities.
The Northern Cities Water Supply and Sanitation Project ($224 million) is part of a long-term plan to extend water supply and wastewater collection and disposal systems in Rasht, Babol, Sari and Anzali to ensure residents have reliable supply of water. Wastewater collections services and treatment facilities will improve health conditions in urban centers and contribute to the protection of natural resources in the area, like the Anzali Lagoon. The project will also strengthen local institutions to improve the efficiency of water service delivery.
In Iran, more than 90 percent of water is consumed by agriculture, which accounts for one-fourth of non oil export earnings. Although the country has invested heavily in building dams, it is facing a water crisis on several fronts. Irrigation water use efficiency remains very low despite the importance of agriculture and water quality is deteriorating with silt infiltrating dam reservoirs due to poor forest and range land management.
“While benefits from Iran’s investments in dams have been substantial in terms of securing much needed water for economic development, there is scope for improving water resources management on a river basin scale by applying global best practices,” says Joseph Saba, World Bank Country Director for Iran.
In response to these challenges, the Alborz Integrated Land and Water Management Project ($120 million) will pilot a holistic approach to managing land and water resources at the river basin level in the province of Mazandaran along the Caspian Sea.
Named after the Alborz mountain range that stretch across the northern provinces, this project will modernize irrigation and drainage systems and involve farmers in decision-making on water allocation and management by creating Basin Water Councils and Water Users Associations. It will also introduce community-based land and water conservation to reduce soil erosion and protect water quality, particularly in poor communities.
“Both projects place people and local institutions at the heart of water resource management and delivery of clean and safe water,” says Saba. “Safeguarding water resources is a shared responsibility that not only promotes a cleaner environment, but also contributes to social inclusiveness and fighting poverty.”
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For information on the World Bank’s activities in Iran, please visit:
PARLIAMENT UK -- Iran: Nuclear Programme -- 23 May 2005 : Column 237, 238
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their response to reports that the Iranian Government are to resume uranium enrichment which could be weapons-related.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, representatives of the Government of Iran have made a number of statements indicating a wish to resume the conversion of uranium at its facility at Esfahan. We have made it clear to Iran that such action would breach the November 2004 Paris agreement. In this case, the United Kingdom, along with France and Germany, shall have no choice but to support referring Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council. We remain committed to seeking mutually acceptable long-term arrangements with Iran, but that must be within the context of the Paris agreement.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Iran's continued deceit, deception and defiance mean that it would be better if the Government ended their present policy of appeasement of this odious theocracy? Is it not time that the title of "terrorist" was hung around the mullah's neck rather than around those of people seeking to restore the democracy and human rights that have been stolen from them?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, although I understand that sentiment, the efforts that we are all taking must be to try to ensure that a nuclear-weapons capability does not develop in Iran. That must be our first and foremost objective. In that light, I can report to the House that the Foreign Secretary will meet with the E3 and the Iranian counterparts in Geneva on 24 May to emphasise that a resumption of conversion activities would breach the Paris agreement and inevitably lead to the E3 proposing to the IAEA that it reports Iran to the UN Security Council. It is essential to give the meeting on 24 May every chance of success. That must be our priority. However, that does not dim the need for proper democracy to emerge in that country.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, given that the statement by the Iranian vice president, Mr Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is also head of the nuclear programme, was not only that they would resume the conversion of yellowcake to uranium tetrafluoride, but that they had already produced 37 tonnes of that material. How will the international community be certain that those 37 tonnes will not be fed into the enrichment plants at Natanz? Has the Minister observed that the Council of Guardians has whittled down the number of candidates for the presidency to six—two of whom are mullahs, and four are former commanders of the Revolutionary Guard—and that the lead candidate is Mr Rafsanjani, who was the original architect of the nuclear programme in the mid-1980s? Given those circumstances, will Britain and the international community declare that the forthcoming elections have no democratic legitimacy?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I had of course noticed the news this morning about the number of candidates being reduced to six. However, in trying to deal with the fundamental questions raised in this Starred Question, perhaps I may suggest that noble Lords should reflect on the priorities of the day. The first priority must be to ensure that the fuel cycle arguments are either verified or not verified. That requires detailed work in the meeting that is to come and in other meetings. The E3 group meets regularly on this. That must be the first and fundamental point.
It is always possible that those who are involved will reflect on the discussions and conclude that there is duplicity. They may make better progress, as we must all hope for. As I said, if they conclude that there is duplicity, the resort is to the UN Security Council on the grounds of a clear breach of the Paris agreement.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, does the Minister recollect from his reading of the crucial Smyth report on the manufacture of nuclear weapons, Atomic Energy for Military Purposes, published by the United States Government in August 1945, that the enrichment of uranium is but a small step in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon that will detonate at the right time in the right place? Therefore, regrettable and suspicious though the enrichment programme in Iran may be, it is important that we do not allow that issue to dominate our very important development of relations with Iran.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, there is a lot of sense in that point, and that is why I used the words "fuel cycle" in the response that I gave a few moments ago. One of the activities involved in all non-proliferation work is to make an assessment of whether the fuel cycle is being used to branch out in the direction of weapons of mass destruction and in particular the manufacture of nuclear weapons. That is the discussion that has to take place around Iran, and 24 May is a staging post in that.
If the Iranians are convincing that they are trying to generate power of a peaceful kind rather than power of a disastrous kind, no doubt the international community will be mightily relieved. Otherwise the international community will have to face the responsibilities that fall upon it.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the word "appeasement" is not the proper one to use regarding the process which the EU three—Britain, France and Germany—are using in seeking to ensure that the rule of law under the treaty on WMD is strictly observed by Iran? Unless we want to go down the road of another Iraq, and a more serious one if I may say so, we have to stick with the attempts being made in the present negotiations and seek an outcome that does not lead to a Security Council escalation in the tradition of Iraq.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. That is why I put it to noble Lords on all sides of the House to answer the question of what methodology they would prefer. I prefer, and this has been indicated in one or two of the questions, a methodology that involves detailed discussion, proper inspection, the involvement of the international community in that inspection, the resolution of what the processed uranium is intended to be used for and to try to resolve the matter by agreement. Were everyone to stick to the Paris agreement, that could certainly be achieved. We must make sure that they do.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, does the Minister accept that we have reached an extraordinarily dangerous moment and that we need to keep closely in touch not only with our European colleagues, but also with Washington about the next step? Does he also agree that whatever the Paris agreement may say about uranium enrichment and yellowcake conversion, the awful truth is that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by Iran, uranium enrichment for civil purposes is permitted. Does that not lead to the conclusion that we should be looking at some of the legal and constitutional holes in the present non-proliferation treaty structure and aiming reforms at that in order to make the whole process more legal and transparent?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I accept the point made by the noble Lord about the dangers of this particular moment. However, I am glad to say that in facing up to those dangers the European Union three and the United States share exactly the same objectives. The US has made it clear that we have a common purpose. We both want to see the diplomatic process succeed and we want Iran to honour its obligations. I also take the point that the treaty is not entirely watertight on these matters. But I think we share the view that the critical task for the international community, through its institutions, is to make a judgment on whether the enrichment process is intended to end in the building of nuclear weapons or whether it has a genuine, legitimate and proven intention to be the source of an electrical power supply. Strengthening the treaty would not be of imminent help to us because it will not be strengthened imminently, but the argument for reviewing it is sound.
Iraq's Future: The Iranian Impact US House of Representatives Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- Gembara
Lt. Colonel Thomas Cantwell (TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE), was the commander of the United States Military Police 324th Battalion that served in Iraq for more than a year. (2003) ' Captain Vivian Gembara (TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE), JAG forces attorney for the U.S. military for 4 years, deployed in Iraq for 12 months, beginning in April 2003. The Honorable Dr. Said Abdullah Al-Jabouri, Former Iraqi Governor of Diyala Province (2004-2005) Dr. Kenneth Katzman, specialist in Middle East affairs for the Congressional Research Service.
Captain Vivian Gembara:
Thank you for having me. I'd like to state that I'm here on a personal basis. My comments and thoughts and opinions do not reflect those of the government or the U.S. army.
Beginning in April 2003 I served for a year in Iraq with the third brigade combat team of the fourth infantry division. I served as the brigade lawyer and the trial counsel. I was with the brigade from the start of the war when we left Kuwait then moved over ground into Iraq. From there we moved about six times throughout the country depending on the operation and the needs. During that time we were tasked with all sorts of things, not only just doing regular raids and patrols but also rebuilding the justice system for me, and rebuilding the governments in certain regions. During this time as well our division was tasked to meet with PMOI, MEK forces and negotiate the surrender agreement, disarmament agreement. I tracked what was happening from a brigade level when this was happening and I was tasked with reviewing drafts of the proposed agreement. Recommending any changes and trying to learn as much as I could about the mission in general in the event that my commander needed additional input.
I had no prior knowledge of the MEK and quite frankly, when you're out in the field there was no Internet access so that you can do quick research or anything like that. We went with what we got through orders. I learned from speaking with those around me that Special Forces soldiers had met with the MEK initially and by all accounts, they were impressed with their abilities and their willingness to cooperate with us. They recommended possibly using MEK forces in some capacity later. Washington strongly disagreed because they were designated a terrorist organization and in the end I gather our mission was to go out there and clear up any confusion.
The original plan was to go there and secure their surrender in a one day meeting and it certainly didn't go as planned. The MEK apparently received our proposed agreement and what they had done was meticulously dissected it, line by line. They cited their objections and the need for further discussion, similar to how a lawyer might object, and it took us all by surprise. It pushed the talks to a second day and at that time I was called forward from the brigade area to attend that second day. I was there to provide additional legal advice when needed, to expedite the process.
The day was definitely full of surprises. The first of which, when I arrived was that I had learned from my superiors we were to attend the meeting without any weapons and without any body armor. I found this disconcerting due to the fact that we were asking a group that I knew little about to disarm entirely and apparently, from my understanding, they were not agreeing with it. Second the MEK were extremely skilled in oral argument, many schooled in the U.S. and they were lawyers themselves. We went through several additional drabs of the agreement that day before finally raging a consensus.
They were equally skilled with military training and tactics to include information operations and had erected several radio towers throughout the country. I can't tell you how surprised we really were. They knew the terrain. Throughout the day and they referenced border areas that they knew were unsecured and cited locations we had not yet discovered. And finally they were always up front about their own mission, that being to remove the mullahs and bring a democratic government to Iran.
During breaks throughout the day it was hard not to marvel at their own resourcefulness there. We had been Iraq for a little over a month. The MEK's headquarters building was the first place I had seen with electricity, food, running water, toilets and air conditioning that I had seen. All of their camps functioned independently and they chose to design and build their own electrical sewer and water supply systems to maintain control and limit interference by Saddam. This was above and beyond anything we had seen so far in the entire country. It astounded me personally.
After signing the agreement the mood was understandably somber for the remainder of the day. They had just agreed to completely disarm and consolidate all their forces with out any promises or guarantees from us about their future and yet again and to my surprise they insisted that we stay for a meal and motioned us to join them in the dining room. When we walked in and there were tables that had already been set, fit for a Persian feast.
As a junior officer I sat at the far end of the table but I couldn't help noticing how upset some of the MEK members were. It was a bit awkward but rather than simply ignoring the emotion, some of the more senior members of the MEK made at a point to assure us that the emotions we were witnessing would not in any way interfere with their full cooperation in compliance with the agreement.
Soldiers began disarming and consolidating the MEK the following day. The experience stuck with me but I still had eleven more months and country so I essentially filed it away in my memory. The reason why I'm here today is because of the continuing violence in Iraq.
I've taught the rules of engagement countless times to soldiers before they go on missions, that for deploying, before patrols, before going on special assignments just to refresh them in one of the fundamentals that I like to start with is that you need to be able to identify your enemy. Intelligence is key to finding that enemy, the enemy that hits us with a roadside bomb or the enemy that essentially impedes our entire mission, trying to undermine any chance of stability and democracy to take root there in Iraq.
Next of course is identifying your allies. Over two years have past now since I met with the MEK but my question is still the same, why can't we take maximum use of the potential and assets of this ally here? Today they have been fully cooperative and shown us that they respect and honor agreements that they have entered into.
It's been two years now and as a soldier and a lawyer I believe it's time to change their designation as a terrorist organization. Before two years ago we can safely argue it is in all of our best interests to maintain this label even despite the Special Forces recommendations out of natural weariness. Two years have passed and I think it's crucial that we recognize that the situation has changed. The potential benefits of working together definitely overshadow previous concerns and hesitations that we had.
So the question that really remains is, how important is it for us to succeed in Iraq, to secure it as a democratic country? The soldiers are out there trying to make it happen every day. We can sit around here talking about what's best, but they are the ones out there risking their lives and I think it's our duty to do everything we can to help them succeed.
Iraq's Future: The Iranian Impact US House of Representatives Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- Cantwell
Lt. Colonel Thomas Cantwell (TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE), was the commander of the United States Military Police 324th Battalion that served in Iraq for more than a year. (2003) Captain Vivian Gembara (TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE), JAG forces attorney for the U.S. military for 4 years, deployed in Iraq for 12 months, beginning in April 2003. The Honorable Dr. Sad Abdullah Al-Jabouri, Former Iraqi Governor of Diyala Province (2004-2005) Dr. Kenneth Katzman, specialist in Middle East affairs for the Congressional Research Service.
Lt. Colonel Thomas Cantwell:
Thank you for the invitation. I would like to thank [organizers] and also I would like to welcome Dr. Abdula. The last time we saw each other was in 2003 in a looted building with no electricity so we have come quite some way I would say. One correction to my bio, I am currently serving as an army reserve officer but I want to be clear, I am here on a personal basis and my views in no way represent the views of the department of defense.
As it was mentioned by Ms. Miller, I commanded the 324th military police battalion in 2003. We were directed to move up to Bakuba which is the provincial capital of Diyala province which is the province of which Abdullah is the governor and we performed area security operations in the city of Bakuba and some of the outlying areas and then we transitioned into police reconstruction operations to try and get the police back on the streets, to vet the police force, to eliminate the possibility of previous abusers under the old regime were still on the police force and to restore security to the province.
After a few months I was given a fragmentary order and moved up to assume command at camp Ashraf which is the camp of the Peoples Mojahedin of Iran, so Im kind of a tactical commander, so Im going to limit my comments to my observations on the ground as a tactical commander and really I am going to talk about two areas which is my early on observations of working with the Iraqi police and the Iraqi interim government on the ground dealing with provincial issues in the Diyala province and then later my experiences as the commander of Ashraf. And just to place Diyala province, if you imagine Baghdad, the borders of the province essentially run due east to the Iranian border and then due north along the line of the Tigris river, about 100 miles, hundred 50km to the Kurdish green line. Its the northeast quadrant above Baghdad over to the Iranian border.
When we first got there we started working police reconstruction. In that capacity we worked very closely with the Iraqi police. To echo Dr Katzmans remarks in a little more practical fashion, my very first tactical operation and Bakuba was to go into the main police station and shut down the police operations. In fact a member of, we call them the Badr Corp, a fairly senior member of the Badr Corp was functioning as the chief of police, and he install themselves as the chief of police in Diyala province. Just so you understand, Diyala province is north of Baghdad so its not in a traditionally heavy Shia area. Its made up of a mix of Sunni, Shia and some Kurds because it borders of the Kurdish homeland.
My second operation was to go and remove the SCIRI party from a government building where they had moved into the government building and were setting up a political headquarters. So very early on we saw this dynamic going on and as I developed relationships with Iraqi police and also through my interpreters, most of my interpreters were Shia, and outside the old regime government, whereas many of my police counterparts were Sunni and had been lower ranking functionaries of the old regime so I got both voices, and appears as though, there was a pretty aggressive plan to move into the province and tried to assume some of the reins of government.
And the other things that I think we saw that has been under reported is the looting part of it. As soon as the bombing started and the government fell apart, large scale looting went on. Its beyond the scale that I think we Americans can imagine. Literally buildings would be, first everything that was worth money would be removed, buildings would then be burned, when the shell was left they would come in and chisel out the windows, the doors, and then it literally dismantle the structure brick by brick.
Much of this material, cars were being stolen, government property was being stolen and it was being trucked off. My Iraqi friends told me that much of it was going across the border into Iran.
To give you an example of an early joint Iraqi an American patrol in Bakuba we were driving down the road, I was in my Humvee and right behind me was one of the ubiquitous white and blue Nissan trucks with IPF (Iraqi Police Force) on the side. They suddenly stopped and I pulled over to see why they had stopped. There was a small old car with oxy-acetylene welding tanks strapped to the roof and they were literally cutting down the electrical poles. They were cutting them off at the base and they were throwing the polls in the back of the truck. The poles would then go right across the [Iranian] border. So this is the kind of looting that was going on in the early period, the early days there.
My Iraqi colleagues who were the source of much of my intelligence; they were the best source of human intelligence within the province, told me that there was a large scale infiltration into the area and certainly we saw some signs of that coming from across the border. And it was easy to do right after the bombing started because all the Iraqi border guards fled. Im also told that in 1991 something very similar had happened in the wake of the first war so in some ways this had been rehearsed.
This Sunni and Shia residents of Diyala province that I met were Iraqi first. In fact in many tribes there were Sunni and Shia in the same tribe. I didnt have the sense that within the local populace there was a great deal of animosity along religious lines. Certainly there was a feeling of disenfranchisement on the part of the Shia who were locked out of some of the jobs and some of the better opportunities.
Later I was redirected and moved north to camp Ashraf. As you may recall going into Iraq the Mojahedin-E Khalq, the PMOI, Peoples Mojahedin of Iran had a number of bases along the Iranian border, and prior to the war they had evacuated all their bases down south and moved up north to try and get out of the way of the American army.
At the time the war started they had several bases, one in Faluja, certainly they had a compound in Baghdad, the large camp at Ashraf one along the Iranian border in Jalula. Under U.S. orders they evacuated those camps and consolidated at Ashraf. We assessed at the time the threat to coalition forces by the Mojahedin as being minimal. When they were directed to put their weapons away and store their weapons they did so. Subsequently they turned over a carefully prepared inventoried list of all their equipment. They were very disciplined, as a paramilitary force should be. When we went in and took control of all of the weapons systems and inventoried it we found that the inventories were all accurate leading me to conclude that they had substantially complied with every directive coalition forces had given them.
We were pretty busy in those days as you can probably imagine so their cooperation in complying with coalition directives was good for me personally because it enabled me to use some of my security forces to do area operations in the surrounding countryside and also engage in some civic action programs in the countryside that I would otherwise not have been able to do because we were able to secure the camp with a small number of soldiers. We were able to do some positive things for the Iraqis that we might not otherwise have been able to do, to include installing irrigation pumps along the Tigris for a number of farming communities, refurbishing schools, setting up an Internet café in Bakuba. I think its worth noting that to this day I still receive emails and phone calls from Iraqi friends that I think are attributed to those efforts.
With respect to the Mojahedin, I came in after the negotiation; I dont know how to characterize it so Ill leave that to captain Gembara. The negotiations Im referring to are between General Odierno, the commander of the 4th infantry division and Madam Parsaee, the leader of the Ashraf. So all of that had been resolved, the Mojahedin had agreed to comply with coalition directives. When I moved into to occupy that camp and assume that mission, the basis for that relationship had already been established.
My mission had several aspects to it. On the one hand we had the Geneva conventions responsibility to safeguard the Mojahedin. This was a real possibility because there was evidence that the camp had previously been attacked by the Iranian government. I saw some photographs and other evidence that the camp had been hit by a scud missiles launched from across the border, that it had been mortared by operations carried out across the border and certainly that possibility was still there during this time. So we had a very real mission of securing them which we took it very seriously. We escorted the Mojahedin On sustainment missions etc.
The Mojahedin were self sustaining and this was advantageous to coalition forces because if we were to assume that mission, we could have provided food and medicine but they certainly demonstrated that they had that capability themselves. It was to our benefit, rather than to assume that mission, facilitate their continued sustainment. So what we did to ensure that we had positive control over those operations, we would escort their teams when they would go in and conduct coordination operations. We would monitor that coordination and I think we did that very successfully. That included daily convoy runs down to Baghdad in order to sustain the camp of 4000.
I want you to remember, my soldiers were operating out of a place called camp Warhorse, Bakuba. There were a little more than 4000 troops there which is essentially the size of a brigade. Since they were able to do that and we were able to do that and maintain positive control and maintaining that ability for all of the personnel there, we felt that was the smart military decision to make.
The Mojahedin agreed to the issuance of identification cards and other biometric identification as we moved forward to establish accountability for all of the personnel there and they were cooperative in those efforts as well. Toward the end of my command I did meet the FBI team there in Baghdad and later escorted a team of counterterrorism specialist from the FBI and up to camp Ashraf where they were able to observe the camp and talk to some of the senior leadership of the Mojahedin.
In summary that is my experience and the last thing I would add to it, again we had to rely heavily on human intelligence to develop intelligence related to local threats. I was a battalion commander and I wasnt so much concerned with what was happening across the border as much as whats happening two, three or four kilometers from the perimeter of my soldiers so we talked of the sheiks and some of the members of the Mojahedin about these kinds of things. It was interesting because the Mojahedin, in hindsight it seems correctly, picked up several tactics that were being used, and later used successfully to move munitions in Red Crescent ambulances and the use of Huseiniats and other types of facilities as staging areas for activities there. Certainly some of the information that we heard turned out to be accurate. Finally I would tell you that as a local tactical commander one of the things I tried to do aggressively was get out into the local community and talk to the local sheiks. It was my feeling that our security was best guarantee if we worked in partnership the local Iraqi people.
When I moved up into northern Diyala province, the relationship the Mojahedin has with the local community helped me in that regard. Most of the local sheiks, you understand this is part of the Sunni Triangle, they werent fully trusting of coalition forces but they seemed to have some level of trust with the Mojahedin. When I sought to get them to go in and speak to them and to understand what their issues are, there security issues, their infrastructure repair issues, their life support issues and to try to help them understand what our operations were doing to ensure that they understood why were undertaking our operations. It certainly helped to have that friendly relationship with the Mojahedin because it helped me to break the ice with local sheiks which I think is very important.