Blogspot was somewhat "filtered" or "blocked" for a few days in Iran and that prevented me from posting a new item this week. The problem got into the news and they fixed it a few days ago. Although access to the internet in cities throughout Iran has increased significantly but recently internet connections have been slow and in many instances cut off during certain sensitive periods. This unreliable internet status has damaged both business and scientific exchanges, which in addition to extensive filtering of political news and analysis sites leaves communications in Iran in a difficult predicament. Many observers have studied and analyzed the problems that internet users are facing in Iran, they have come to the conclusion that both technical and political issues are involved and that we need reliable, efficient and secure internet connections to ensure social and economic progress. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic has quaranteed basic freedoms including access to information. However, interpretations on the Constitution vary and in practice things have been very different.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created a wave of concern for environmentalists throughout the world. The event awakened my memories of the oil spill created during the Iraqi aggression against Iran and the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. Thousands of barrels of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf which is a semi-closed body of water with significant biodiversity. More than 12 million inhabitants live on the borders of the Persian Gulf, mostly in Iran, but also in Arab States. Tehran University had held the first International Conference on the Effects of Oil Spill in the Persian Gulf under the leadership of my late father Dr. Taghi Ebtekar , in 1984. Many international scholars had attended and presented their assessment of the situation. During my tenure as the Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment, we endeavored to strengthen the international mechanisms including the ROPME organization programs to protect the sea. We also conducted two research cruises in the Persian Gulf to survey the water quality and the biota. In addition, Iran presented an environmental damage claim to the UN Compensation Committee against Saddam Hussein for the destruction of the marine environment and we conducted 8 marine research projects in the area as supportive evidence for the Claim. The results indicated the scale of the widespread damage that oil had inflicted upon the coral reef, seagrass populations, costal areas and other biodiversity. Tar balls with the specificity of oil from Iraqi wells and soot from the burning of the wells was still observable in costal areas. Tens of millions of dollars of damage were estimated as part of the environmental costs inflicted. We adopted several clean up projects in 2005 prior to the elections when the Government changed.
Considering the state of relations between the two countries I doubt that Americans would ask for any advice or learn from our experiences in this regard ,but I do hope that they could take swift and serious action to address the matter and control the damage to the global ecosystem.