By: Jabbar Fazeli, MD
The BBC reported on Saturday that Mr. Hasan Aghajani, advisor to the health minister, had told an Iranian TV station that 4460 Iranians had died as a result of air pollution in the past year (1).
He also reported a 10% increase in emergency service calls, and a 30% increase in visits to the cardiology centers in Tehran.
Last Wednesday, schools and government buildings were shut down to avoid exposing the public to toxic levels of air pollution and to reduce traffic in many iranian cities, including: Tehran, Isfahan, and Ghom. Tehran was shut down again this past saturday under similar circumstances.
More than 22 million Iranians live in polluted cities and are subject to increased health risks resulting from air pollution (1).
Last year the Iranian government decided to use petrochemical plants to produce petrol to overcome the lack of sufficient refining capacity to meet the national need for gasoline. As this pollution crises intensifies there is no sign that the Government is willing to concede that the new synthetic petrol is to blame for the pollution, and move to limit its use in large population centers. As far as the regime is concerned, the new petrol is safe, if not safer than what Iran used to import.
Like many Islamic republic lies, the lie about the safety of petrol is covered by layers and layers of lies that it is now near impossible for the government to admit mistakes and take corrective action. There is one admission buried in ISNA 2011 archives that the iranian petrol is made to Euro 2 quality, and not current standards (5). Good luck finding any recent honest discussion by Iranian officials on the subject.
The other question that this issue raises is whether or not the Iranian government knew of the health risks to the population when it decided to more ahead with a hasty plan to replace imported gasoline with its own synthetic (instead of refined) petrol.
It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that they knew the risks to the general population but chose to make this particular "human" sacrifice to keep their political and nuclear ambitions alive.
Khomeini faced a similar choice years ago when he had to choose between ending the Iran-Iraq war, or keep sending thousands of Iranian youths in futile "human wave" attacks to achieve the unattainable goal of punishing Sadam for attacking Iran .
Khamenei, like Khomeini before him, is pursuing unattainable goals of his own (nuclear and military) at the cost of physical and financial suffering of the Iranian people. The Kayhan editor recently wrote that "some" want the leader, Khamenei, to drink the «جام زهر» "poison" on the nuclear issue (2), referring to Khomeini's decision to end the war with Sadam in 1988, which he compared to drinking poison (3,4).
In both cases the question is not when the supreme leader is forced to drink the poison, but rather how long the "leader" is willing to tolerate the suffering of his people, or in this case, their slow poisoning by air pollution, before he relents and gives up on failed policies.
If history continues to repeat itself in Iran then we are bound to see Khamenei pushing the country to the edge of total disaster before he decides to drink his «جام زهر».
news.com.au, Iran-e-Sabz.org, news.yahoo.com, freedomessanger.com