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Snow Job: Iran Accuses Its Enemies Of 'Stealing Clouds' To Create Drought

A senior Iranian official has accused Iran’s foreign enemies, including Israel, of modifying the weather in the country in order to create drought.

“Foreigners are suspected of intervening in the country’s climate," Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, a subdivision of the armed forces, said on July 2 in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

He made the remarks at an event focusing on agriculture amid recent protests over water scarcity in the southwest of the country. In the past few days, residents have taken to the streets to demonstrate against shortages of drinking water.

Jalali claimed that a study conducted by “scientific centers” in Iran had confirmed that the weather had been modified by outsiders.

“Over the past four years, the highlands from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean have been studied. The findings are that areas above 2,200 meters were full of snow but our highlands have remained dry,” he said.

“Joint teams from Israel and one of our neighboring countries make clouds that are entering Iran” and which are unable to produce rain, Jalali added. He did not specify which neighboring country he was referring to.

“In addition to that, we have the issue of ‘cloud-stealing’ and ‘snow-stealing,’” he was quoted as saying by domestic media, but he did not give any further explanation or present any evidence.

His claim was dismissed by an official from the country’s Meteorological Organization, who said that “it was not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds.”

Ahmad Vazifeh, head of the weather forecasting and warnings unit at the Meteorological Organization, said he wasn't aware of the study Jalali was referring to but said that the country has, indeed, been hit by years of drought.

“Iran has been facing continuous droughts. This is a worldwide trend,” Vazifeh told the semiofficial ILNA news agency, adding that Iraq, Turkmenistan, and a number of other countries are also suffering from lack of rain.

Vazifeh said Jalali’s comments distract the country from seeking real solutions to the problem.

Experts have blamed climate change and also mismanagement for the water crisis in Iran, where over the past few months there have been several protests around the country over water shortages.

Iranian officials have identified the crisis as a national-security issue.

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL focusing on Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.