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The BBC's Tom Hagler
"Water is a key political issue in the Middle East and its scarcity has often been a source of conflict"
 real 28k

Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 15:28 GMT
Iran-Kuwait water plan unveiled
Desalination plant
Kuwait, like many desert countries, relies on desalination plants
Plans to build one of the world's most ambitious fresh water pipelines have been unveiled in London.

The 540km long pipeline will carry water from a dam in Iran to the coast of Kuwait, across Iranian territory and under the sea.


It is to be built by a consortium of European, Arab and Japanese companies at a cost of $2bn, and will eventuallly supply around 200 million litres of drinking water a day to Kuwait.

Officials say the new pipeline will enable Kuwait to rely less heavily on desalination, which is believed to be causing environmental damage to the coastline.

Water problem

But some critics say it will put excessive strain on the water supply of northern Iran.

A spokesman for the British firm Gulf Utilities Company (GUC) said on Thursday it was close to securing an agreement with Kuwait to build the pipeline.

It will carry water from the Karkheh dam in south western Iran, to the coast of southern Kuwait.

About 330 km (205 miles) of the pipeline will run across Iranian territory, the rest under the sea.

The deal is a sign of Iran's rapprochement with its neighbours.

The progress of this project will be closely watched.

Diminishing water reserves in the entire Middle East region are seen by many as a potential source of conflict.

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19 Feb 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kuwait
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
03 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iran facing drought catastrophe
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