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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:32 GMT
Iran proposes anti-pollution force
The Persian Gulf
Countries around the Persian Gulf should co-operate to protect the environment, an Iranian vice-president has said.

Vice-President Masumeh Ebtekar, who is also head of Iran's Department of the Environment, proposed joint maritime patrols to protect the Gulf, which contains some of the world's most-trafficked shipping lanes.

Oil drilling in the Gulf is also taking an ecological toll, she warned.

"The Persian Gulf is facing severe ecological pollution as a result of oil extraction as well as other economic activities", she said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

'Action must be taken'

Ms Ebtekar, Iran's first female member of government since the 1979 Islamic revolution, warned that unless action was taken the region's rich marine life would be severely damaged.

Iranian Vice-President Masumeh Ebtekar
Ms Ebtekar said Gulf states must work together
She said that a two-year-old Iranian initiative to patrol the Gulf in order to protect the environment had produced positive results.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that some 1.2 million barrels of oil are spilled into the Persian Gulf per year.

The Gulf has significantly higher levels of petroleum hydrocarbons than the North Sea, another oil-drilling region, or Caribbean Sea, the UNEP says.

The agency also warns that the Gulf's oil-producing countries generate from two to eight times more hazardous waste per capita than the United States.

Iran recently fined the owner of a Russian chemicals tanker $62.5m for damages and clean-up costs resulting from the ship's sinking in the Gulf in 1993.

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20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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