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PAN, June 21, 2014

Iran excavates Ghorian iron resources illegally

Some provincial council members acknowledged Iran was extracting the iron mine over the past three years through an underground tunnel

Iranian authorities have been excavating iron mine located in the border area between the two countries in western Herat Province, an official said.

Farid Ahmad Ziartujai, administrative chief of the district, told Pajhwok Afghan News the mine resources were located in the Chab and Cha Shor localities of the district.

Iran had completed the mining work on its side, he said, adding, that since few years the neighboring country continued underground excavation of iron in Afghanistan territory.

The Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Iranian Embassy in Afghanistan rejected the claims, saying the allegations were baseless and untrue.

Ziartujai said provincial authorities and presidential palace were informed about the development. He said a delegation would soon be sent to Iran and Ghorian district to investigate the matter closely.

Arif Shah, a resident of the locality, said Ghorian district shares 120 kilometres border with Iran. Natural reserves such as iron, coal and salt could be found in border area between the two countries.

He confirmed Iran was involved in the mining of iron riches deep inside Afghanistan’s territory. The neighboring country has finished excavation of their part and now penetrating deep inside Afghanistan.

Arif Shah, an employee in the district administration, said provincial and central authorities were informed time and again about the situation but the government had to adopt any strategy in this connection.

President Hamid Karzai had promised to address the problem during his visit to Ghorian district on the opening ceremony of the railway line in the area.

Arif Shah said Iran had constructed underground tunnel and excavate hundreds of tons of iron daily. He said salt and coal mines were being extracted illegally by the locals.

Mohammad Anwar, a resident of Ghorian district, said he had seen several times heavy vehicles at the zero point area of the border that carry stones of iron which were being excavated from iron mine. He called on the government to stop excavation of iron by Iranians.

Some provincial council members acknowledged Iran was extracting the iron mine over the past three years through an underground tunnel it extended into Afghanistan’s soil.

Sulat Khan Noorzai, provincial council member, said Iran move to excavate Afghanistan natural resources was in contravention of international law. He urged the central government to take practical steps to stop Tehran from exploiting Kabul’s resources.

He accused director of provincial mining department of negligence in his duty, urging the ministry concerned to assess the situation in larger interests of the country and Afghans.

Ismail Ghoriani, a civil society member, said Iranian companies had been trying to get contract of this iron mine.

The railway line was being extended from Ghorian to Iran which is located along the mine. It shows that Iran has its interests to build the railway track.

Governor Syed Fazlullah Wahidi said: “There is no mine of iron in Ghorian except that of salt mine there.” He expressed ignorance that iron mine in Ghorian is being extracted by Iran.”

He acknowledged: “There are reports that the salt mine is illegally extracted and imported by people outside the country. It is impossible Iran is exploiting our mines through a tunnel.”

International affairs analyst, Wadir Safai, called illegal extraction of Afghanistan’s mine by Iran a big blow to the country’s independence and territorial integrity.

He said the government should lodge complaint against the neighbouring country in UN Security Council and international courts.

“A body should be sent to Ghorian district as soon as possible to investigate the matter and submit its findings to international courts,” he added.

If the government failed to take immediate steps, it would face the fate of Durand Line like situation, he warned.

Another mining sector analyst, Jawid Noorani, said Iran tried to get this mine through a bidding process last year, but it received harsh reaction from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Norani said an Iranian Company suggested a contract to extract Ghorian iron mine but it was rejected by the ministry of foreign affairs. He said the company was said to belong to Iranian leaders.

No doubt Iran could extract Afghanistan mines through underground canals but it is not so far clear whether Iran is involved in this extraction, he added.

Mohammad Rafi Rafiq Seddiqi, Mines and Petroleum Ministry spokesman, has rejected extraction of Ghorian iron mine and said that the mine is about a hundred kilometres far from the Iran border. Illegal extraction of the mine is a baseless claim.

Rafiq said they did not fund any evidences to prove the mine was extracted by smugglers in Ghorian district.

He rejected any meeting of Afghan mines ministry delegation with the Iranian officials about mine smuggling and said: “I don’t think so if such meeting has happened.” Ghorian iron mine was not awarded to any company so far, he reiterated.

A professional and technical team of the mines ministry has been deployed to survey the mine and prepare the contract keeping in mind the environment of the area, he said.

Iran Embassy in Kabul has also rejected any illegal extraction of Ghorian iron mine and said that Tehran has enough iron resources to meet its needs.

Iran Embassy Spokesman Murtaza told Pajhwok Afghan News: “We don’t need to illegally extract Afghanistan mines through underground canals, because we have rich iron mines in our own country.”

He also rejected that the mine extraction company belonged to Iranian leaders. He added that his country has greater respect for Afghanistan and would never act against Afghan constitution and international agreements.

Category: Healthcare/Environment - Views: 4386