Arzu Naghiyev, Trend expert
Iran, ignoring the interests of regional states, launched implementation of a new project. It intends to build a transcontinental navigable canal with length of 600 kilometers worth $6.5-7 billion from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, desiring to overshadow the strategic importance of the Suez Canal, Iranian Energy Minister Majid Namjoo told Iranian IRNA news agency. According to the minister, one of the main tasks is also desalination of the Caspian Sea water through special facilities for use for industrial and agricultural needs.
To begin the construction of a canal and talk about its operation, without taking into account international conventions and intergovernmental agreements, and without solving the status of the Caspian Sea, means nothing more than a populist statement, which has no political or economic reasons. By creating difficulty in determining the status of the Caspian Sea, Iran can only hinder the negotiation process.
The Caspian Sea is the largest closed lake, so it was called the Sea, situated at the crossroads of European and Asian continents. Some 130 rivers flow in the Caspian Sea, forming nine deltas, and the volume of sea water is constantly changing due to changes in water level, depending on climatic, geological and anthropogenic factors. The Caspian Sea has a very rich fauna, numbering about 2,000 animals, and flora, represented by more than 700 species.
It is known that the international marine canals are artificially created sea routes. From this perspective, the creation of such routes without determining the status of the sea contradicts international standards.
Negotiations on the legal status of the Caspian Sea continue, and this process will continue in 2013. The Caspian Sea on the physical and geographical conditions is a closed basin, deprived of communication with the ocean. The UN Conventions on the Environmental Protection reflect the duties and tasks assigned to each state for the protection of marine flora and fauna fulfillment of which is important. Marine pollution occurs mainly as a result of land-based sources, hazardous waste, which falls into the water along the traffic route of vessels, toxic, poisonous and hazardous substances falling into water during transportation.
Iran once again can be reminded that on November 4, 2003 in Tehran, the Caspian states (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran) signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea.
The purpose of the Convention, which entered into force on August 12, 2006, is the protection, restoration of the environment of the Caspian Sea and a long and effective use of its biological resources, including the prevention of pollution of the Caspian Sea. So, next mega-project of Iran can be considered extremely risky from an environmental point of view.
It also shouldn't be forgotten that in July 1998 Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian Sea in order to exercise sovereign rights to the subsoil, and in May 2002 - Protocol to the agreement. On November 29, 2001 and February 27, 2003 Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea and the Protocol thereto, respectively. Also, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia on May 14, 2003 signed an agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea.