The Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corpse’ handling of the recent sinking of the Kharg, one of the largest ships in Iran’s navy, shows its negligence regarding environmental issues and highlights its hypocrisy in dealing with others, as well as the regime and IRGC threat to the environment.
“The fire that started on the ship likely occurred because the vessel is so old,” said a former Iranian naval analyst speaking on condition of anonymity, noting that the Kharg was built in the 1970s.
The Iranian regime “keeps having to retrofit old equipment” in weapons systems, nuclear facilities or oil and gas refineries, he said.
Iran also has ignored environmental concerns in its pursuit of expansionism and regional domination in the Middle East.
Satellite photos published by multiple outlets show a large oil slick and debris around the sinking hull of the Kharg. Iranian officials have, thus far, failed to acknowledge the environmental impact of the incident.
In November 2019, an Iranian port authority official in Bushehr province confirmed an oil leak off the Gulf coast, 20km in length, but both the Oil Ministry and the Foreign Ministry remained silent about the issue.
Iran’s top officials are unwilling to acknowledge that the country is grappling with widespread environmental challenges.
Dilapidated equipment in refineries and power plants causes multiple fires throughout Iran every year, but the Islamic Republic routinely disregards the environmental damage of such catastrophes.
Air pollution has been a persistent problem in Tehran, occasionally forcing schools in the Iranian capital to close.
A 2017 warning by Kaveh Madani, one of the country’s top former environmental officials, that Iran is less than 50 years away from running out of fresh drinking water, fell on deaf ears.
His warnings were ignored, he was detained on espionage charges for a short time, and left Iran soon after.
In January 2018, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence department arrested seven environmentalists and conservationists in Iran.
Kavous Seyyed-Emami, a well-known environmentalist and cheetah conservationist who was falsely accused of using monitoring cameras to spy on Iran’s missile depots, died after being tortured in prison that February.
Though it has ignored the warnings of its own experts about environmental degradation and failing to control oil spills off its Gulf coast, the Islamic Republic has held others to a higher standard than it has applied to itself and the regime and IRGC threat extend well beyond just environmental issues.
It detained a South Korean tanker in January in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged environmental pollution.
In 2019, the US Navy said Iranian limpet mines, likely planted by the IRGC, were responsible for explosions that damaged a Japanese and a Norwegian oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran denied the charge, but the US Navy showed video footage of IRGC operatives removing an unexploded mine from the Japanese vessel.
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