Feb 13, 2008

Ahwazi: No to Nuclear Power Plant

Ahwazi condemn Iran’s nuclear plans in Khuzestan, warning of a potential Chernobyl-like environmental disaster and possible military use.

Ahwazi condemn Iran’s nuclear plans in Khuzestan, warning of a potential Chernobyl-like environmental disaster and possible military use.

Below is a press release from The British Ahwazi Friendship Society published by OpenPR:

Indigenous Ahwazi Arabs have condemned the construction of a nuclear power plant on their traditional lands in Iran's southwest province of Khuzestan.

Ahwazi criticism mounted as Iran began construction of a nuclear facility at Darkhovin. Iran has been building its first nuclear power plant near the southern city of Bushehr, where test operations could start this year [2008]. Final deliveries of nuclear fuel by Russia arrived at the plant last month [January 2008]. The plants in Khuzestan and Bushehr are being built on or near an earthquake fault line which destroyed the historic city of Bam.

The regime is resurrecting plans drawn up under the Shah, who had signed a contract with the French government in 1969 to construct a nuclear power station near the towns of Falahieh (Shadegan) and Mohamareh (Khorramshahr). The plans were never fully realised. The Iranian regime now plans to use Russian technology to construct a power station.

Daniel Brett, Chairman of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Building nuclear power stations without the consent of the local population is wrong. Ahwazi Arabs continue to suffer the effects of chemical and biological weapons used in the Iran-Iraq War and they don't want more pollution and more environmental threats.

"Ahwazi Arabs are concerned about safety, fearing that the use of Russian technology in inexperienced Iranian hands could lead to a Chernobyl-like disaster, which will affect the entire region.

"In terms of addressing the country's energy balance, it makes little sense to build a nuclear power station in Khuzestan instead of utilising the abundant local oil resources. Why is the regime not locating the station in the country's energy-poor areas or nearer the most urbanised and populated areas? This would reduce costs and improve transmission. There is just no economic justification for a civilian nuclear power station in Khuzestan, where less than a tenth of the total population lives.

"Neighbouring provinces and countries should be concerned over safety issues, as Khuzestan is an earthquake-prone area. The planned power station is being built using local expertise, but nuclear reactors built in earthquake zones need highly skilled engineering to minimise risks. If the nuclear power station is built without the supervision of world-class engineers, Khuzestan could witness a Chernobyl-scale disaster.

"Given that the province is heavily militarised and under de facto martial law, it seems likely that the planned station will have some military use. We have been warning the international community for the past three years over the developments in Khuzestan and the negative impact militarisation this is having on the welfare and human rights of local inhabitants. The international community must act now to stop ethnic cleansing and militarisation in order to support human rights and peace in the region. The last thing the Ahwazi Arabs want is a nuclear power station with possible military uses in their homeland."

Iran is accused of using nuclear power stations to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons, whereas the Iranian regime claims that its intentions are peaceful. Many Ahwazis and others living near sites for future nuclear power plants in Ahwaz and Bushehr are concerned about safety in this earthquake-prone region. Any tremours on a Richter Scale of 7 could destroy the Bushehr power station and any nuclear facility located in Khuzestan. If the power plants go ahead, any earthquake on the magnitude of the recent earthquake in Pakistan, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, would be of major consequence to the people of the Gulf region.