Iranian President Mohammad Khatami inaugurated a major dam Thursday, April 19, on the Karkheh river in the southwestern province of Kuzistan, on the border with Iraq, an AFP correspondent observed.
Several areas of Kuzistan were occupied by Iraq at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-88, and the president lavished praise on the spirit of the local people
He called the area "an epic land of faith and freedom of the people," while not making any reference to Wednesday's cross-border raids by Iranian government troops on the country's armed opposition based in Iraq.
Iran officially reported the raids Thursday, calling them "limited and defensive" and aimed at replying to "terrorist" attacks by the Mujahedeen over recent years, while at the same time calling for "friendly relations" with Baghdad. “We went to war, not to welcome death but to have an honorable life," he added.
Presiding over the inauguration of the dam, Khatami said: "The construction of dams will help us create tens of thousands of jobs and to solve the problem of unemployment, as we still need to stockpile 40 billion cubic meters (of water)," Khatami said.
Iran has 86 dams, he said, 73 of which were built after the (1979) revolution, and 16 since Khatami was elected president in 1997.
The Karkheh dam has a capacity of 7.3 billion cubic meters, and should boost the country's water reserves by 30 percent, according to the project director Said Dadgostarnia. It should also see a cooling in the province's climate, which suffers from very high temperatures.
The three biggest dams around Tehran have seen their reserves drop by 50 percent because of the weak rainfall. — (AFP, Dezful)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)