People, Environment

Iran, Iraq to Launch Center to Combat Dust Storms

Iran, Iraq to Launch Center to Combat Dust Storms
Iran, Iraq to Launch Center to Combat Dust Storms

Tehran and Baghdad signed an accord on Thursday to set up a joint center to combat dust storms in Iraq, less than two months after reaching a verbal agreement.

The agreement was signed in Tehran by Mohammad Mojabi, deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs at the Department of Environment, and Jassim Abdulaziz Humadi, caretaker of Iraq's Ministry of Environment, ILNA reported.

A 200-hectare land in Karbala has been designated as the site for the center, which will operate for between 10 and 25 years, based on the agreement.

DOE chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, said the agreement will go into effect in two months.

"The project will be funded by both sides," she said, adding that they have "estimates" on how much the scheme will cost "but we're not in a position to give exact figures yet".

This is not the first time that Tehran and Baghdad have agreed on tackling dust storms that besiege large portions of the Middle East, including Iraq and western Iran. However, Iraq has failed to deliver on its end of the deals due to its struggle with the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, also known as Daesh.

Nevertheless, Karbala, home to the shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia imam, has been left relatively unscathed by terrorists, making it an ideal place to set up the center.

Daesh is losing ground rapidly in Iraq, opening up previously inaccessible areas, which will allow experts to study dust storm hotspots closely.

Major domestic sources of dust storms lie in Khuzestan Province in the southwest and Sistan-Baluchestan Province in the southeast. However, experts believe foreign sources play a more prominent role in Iran's predicament.

Sources in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq contribute to a greater share of particulates found in the storms that frequently hit western Iran.

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