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IRAN, Landmine Monitor Report 2002


Key developments since May 2001: Although Iran declared an export moratorium in 1997, mine clearance organizations in Afghanistan are encountering numerous Iranian mines, dated 1999 and 2000. Also, in early January 2002, the Israeli military seized Iranian-produced antipersonnel mines on a ship reportedly destined to Palestine. According to an Iranian military official, from March 2001 to March 2002, 70 million square meters of land was cleared, including more than 3.2 million antipersonnel mines, 914,000 antitank mines and 4,236 UXO. A new joint project with UNDP is aimed at establishing and implementing an integrated national mine action program.


Iran has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Unlike the previous year, Iran did not attend the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2001, or the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in January and May 2002. On 29 November 2001 Iran again abstained, as it has done in previous years, in voting on the UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty.

An Iranian official told Landmine Monitor that while Iran has condemned landmines as inhumane weapons, it also views them as a “necessary evil.”[1] The government believes that it needs to continue to use landmines to protect its borders and to combat drug smugglers.[2]

Iran has stated that it prefers to deal with the landmine issue through the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), which regulates use, not prohibits it.[3] While Iran is not a party to the CCW or its Amended Protocol II on landmines, and has no plans to ratify, a government official told Landmine Monitor that Iran observes the CCW’s restrictions.[4] Iran attended the second review conference of the CCW in December 2001.


Iran is a manufacturer of antipersonnel mines, including the YM-I mine and the Mk. 4 mine, but it is not known if production is on-going or if it commences to meet specific requirements.[5] The size and composition of Iran’s antipersonnel mine stockpile is not known. Iran is believed to maintain minefields along its borders with Iraq and Afghanistan.


Iran exported a significant number of antipersonnel mines in the past. An export moratorium was instituted in 1997, but it is not known if it is still formally in effect.[6] Landmine Monitor has received information that mine clearance organizations in Afghanistan are encountering many hundreds of Iranian YM1 and YM1-B antipersonnel mines, date stamped 1999 and 2000, on recently abandoned Northern Alliance front lines.[7] On 3 January 2002, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) seized a ship, the Karine-A, about 300 miles south of the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel claimed the ship originated from Iran and was destined for Palestine via the Hezbollah in Lebanon.[8] According to a manifest released by the IDF, the weapons on the ship included 311 YM-I antipersonnel mines, 211 YM-III antivehicle mines, demolition blocks, and other high explosives.[9]


The mined areas in western and southwestern Iran, particularly the provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam, and Khuzestan, are the result of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq conflict. Government officials claim that some 12-16 million landmines were planted in Iran by Iraq during the war in an area of over four million hectares.[10]


The Ministry of the Interior decides where mine clearance will take place, based on political, economic, and social priorities, while the Iranian Armed Forces, specifically the Army’s Engineer Units, are responsible for mine clearance projects.

Iran has undertaken massive mine clearance efforts since 1988. According to a senior military official, from the end of the Iran-Iraq War until early 2001, over 750,000 hectares (7,500 million square meters) of mined land and nine million mines and UXO were cleared.[11] Just in the year 2000, more than 30,000 hectares (300 million square meters) of land was cleared, including more than 880,000 mines and UXO, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of the Interior.[12]

According to Brigadier Mohammad Nabizadeh, a deputy head of the Army’s ground forces, from 20 March 2001 to 20 March 2002, 7,000 hectares (70 million square meters) of land was cleared, including 3.2 million antipersonnel mines, 914,000 antitank mines, and 4,236 other munitions.[13]

Despite the progress, in some provinces, such as Ilam, less than half of the minefields have been cleared.[14] In Kurdistan province, deminers had cleared 589 of the 765 mine-infested areas as of early 2001, according to the Deputy Governor-General for Military Affairs, Bahram Nasrollahizadeh.[15]

The UN Development Program (UNDP) and the government are collaborating on a mine action project, “Support to Mine Action in Iran.” The project was initially developed in 1996, but delayed due to funding issues and lack of government approval. It was revived after a visit in 21-26 August 2001 by the UNDP’s Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Recovery. The project has a budget of US$3.2 million (US$3 million from Iran and US$200,000 from UNDP). According to the project abstract, it is designed to “strengthen the national capacity of the relevant civilian Government Ministry (currently the Ministry of Interior) in its implementation of an integrated national Mine Action Programme. All activities will be coordinated by the Committee for Demining, which would consist of members of the Ministry of Defense and Foreign Affairs as well as the governors of the affected provinces.” The UNDP representative in Iran said, “This project will address the negative humanitarian and socio-economic impact of widespread contamination caused by landmines and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). It will enhance the capacity of the Government for an integrated mine action in the country.”[16]

In 2000, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) was contacted by Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian oil and energy producing company, to provide expertise in dealing with mine and UXO contaminated areas in relation to Hydro's seismic explorations in Western Iran. As the Iranian Army is the only body allowed to conduct mine clearance in Iran, Norsk Hydro contracted the Iranian Army to undertake the demining. The program started in January 2001. NPA is responsible for training, advice and quality control for the demining work in the Anaran region of Iran. As of July 2002, NPA has 10 Technical Advisors present in Iran to ensure that the demining activities are in accordance with the International Mine Action Standards. In 2001, approximately 10 million square meters were cleared by the Army and under the supervision of NPA. The project is funded by Norsk Hydro and the national Iranian Oil Company. NPA is also assessing the possibilities for future humanitarian mine action programs in Iran.[17]

Iran has favored greater sharing of information concerning landmine detection technology. The Amir Kabir Univeristy of Technology is hosting an international competition called, “The First International Mine Detector Robots Competition” in August 2002. The purpose of the competition is to identify new technologies and share the information with others around the world.[18]


The UNHCR and the government of Iran cooperate at the Dougharun border camp on the Iran-Afghan border in a program to instruct returning refugees about the issue of landmines.[19] UNHCR is considering a proposal to incorporate mine risk education as a regular part of repatriations of Afghan refugees from both Iran and Pakistan.[20] There are not believed to be any comprehensive efforts underway domestically on mine risk education.

The Iranian cinema has begun to address the issue of landmines. Over the past three years, a number of movies mention the landmine issues. Two of the movies, Takhte Siah (Blackboard) and A Time For Drunken Horses, take place in Kurdistan province in Iran. Kandahar, a movie made by an Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbak, begins with landmine education for returning Afghan refugees in Iran and continues to examine how landmine survivors cope in Afghanistan.


Landmine Monitor recorded 18 people killed by mines in 2001, and two people killed and seven injured in the first quarter of 2002, from a limited number of available media reports. The reports showed the majority of casualties were civilian, including children and shepherds. According to two media reports, every year dozens of livestock, locals and migrant tribesmen are killed or injured by mines.[21]

In February 2001, an Iranian Army commander on a demining team in the southwest section of the country was killed in a mine accident.[22] In March, five children were killed in a landmine explosion at an abandoned military base in the border province of West Azarbaijan.[23] In another incident in March, two shepherds were killed by a mine in the western border city of Mehran, in Ilam province.[24] In April, in the southwestern province of Ilam, six Iranian soldiers were killed after stepping on mines.[25] In November, a farmer was killed in a mine explosion in Ilam province.[26] In December, three people were killed by landmines, including two soldiers in Kurdistan.[27] Mine incidents reported in Ilam province in 2002 included: in January, one person was killed and two injured in a landmine incident[28], and in March, one person was killed and five others injured in landmine explosions.[29]

There is no systematic nationwide reporting of landmine survivors in Iran; a survey done in Ilam province in 2000 is the most in-depth study to date. Between 1989 and 1999, the survey recorded 1,082 casualties, of which 394 were killed.[30] No comprehensive information is available on landmine casualties in other provinces. The Medical Engineering Research Center estimates that there are 300 landmine or UXO casualties in Iran every year, of which 36% are killed.


Little is known about survivor assistance programs in Iran. Military personnel injured by mines receive medical care, rehabilitation, prosthetics, and a pension, from the army. However, civilians injured by mines are referred to the relevant governor general department who then assigns them to a public or private department.[31] The “Mostazafan and Janbazan Foundation” provides a variety of services to people disabled during the Islamic Revolution and war with Iraq. According to their website, the Janbazan section provides many services for the members, including medical care, housing, employment opportunities, and advocacy on nondiscrimination laws and legislation. While this organization does provide assistance for soldiers affected by landmines, it is not clear who assists civilian mine survivors.[32]

In 2000, the High Center for Research and Information, the Mostazafan and Janbazan Foundation, and the Norwegian Trauma Care Foundation, presented a proposal for a victim assistance program to the Ministry of Health. The program would provide training in emergency medical care to paramedics in mine-affected areas.[33] No information on the activities of the program in 2001 is available. However, it is known that in 2001 the Trauma Care Foundation received US$41,000 in funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the program.[34]


[1] Interview with Hamid Baeidi-Nejad, Counselor, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, New York, 24 July 2001 and 1 March 2002.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid. In particular, he claimed that Iran keeps records of where mines are placed.
[5] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, 1999-2000, online update, 18 November 1999.
[6] Statement by Ambassador S. M.H. Adeli, to the Signing Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, Ottawa, 1-4 December 1997; Statement by Ambassador Mehdi Danesh Yazdi to the UN, 17 November 1998.
[7] Information provided to Landmine Monitor and ICBL by HALO Trust and the Danish Demining Group, July 2002.
[8] Transcript of briefing by the IDF Chief of Staff and Commander in Chief of the Israeli Navy, 6 January 2002, posted on http://www.idf.il/english/news/briefing060102.stm.
[9] Manifest posted by IDF at http://www.idf.il/english/news/karinea.stm.
[10] This is the equivalent of 40,000,000,000 square meters. “7,000 Hectares of Land Cleared from Iraqi Mines,” Islamic Republic News Agency (Khorramshahr), 25 March 2002. For a list of the mine types used by Iran and Iraq, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1005.
[11] “6 Iranian Soldiers Killed in Mine Defusing,” Xinhua News Agency, 1 May 2001.
[12] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1005.
[13] “7,000 Hectares of Land Cleared from Iraqi Mines,” Islamic Republic News Agency (Khorramshahr), 25 March 2002.
[14] “Farmer Killed in Western Iran by Landmines Leftover from War with Iraq,” Islamic Republic News Agency (Ilam), 21 November 2001.
[15] “Iran Demines 765 Areas Along Border with Iraq,” Islamic Republic News Agency (Sanandaj, Kordestan Province), 28 April 2001. He indicated the government had allocated 1.8 billion Iranian rials ($1.033 million) for mine clearance in the province.
[16] Email from Hossein Jafari Giv, Program Officer for Natural Resources Management and Disaster Response, UNDP, 19 March 2002.
[17] Norwegian People's Aid, Portfolio of Humanitarian Mine Action; Responses to LM Mine Action Questionnaire from Erik Tollefsen, Technical Advisor, NPA, Oslo.
[18] “Robodeminer 2002,” retrieved on 31 March 2002 at http://www.rdc2002.com/.
[19] “Mine Tips for Refugees,” The Straits Times (Singapore), 21 September 2000.
[20] Interview with Parviz Mohajer, Public Relations Officer, UNHCR, New York, 1 March 2002.
[21] “Farmer Killed in Western Iran by Landmines Leftover from War with Iraq,” Islamic Republic News Agency (Ilam), 21 November 2001; and “Two Soldiers Killed in Mine Blasts on Iraqi Border,” Agence France Presse (Tehran), 18 December 2001.
[22] “Five Children Killed in Iran Landmine Explosion,” Agence France Presse, 17 March 2001.
[23] Ibid.
[24] “Two Killed in Iran Landmine Blast,” Agence France Presse, 29 March 2001.
[25] “Six Iranian Soldiers Killed by Left-over Iran-Iraq War Mine,” Agence France Presse, 1 May 2001.
[26] “Farmer Killed in Western Iran by Landmines Leftover from War with Iraq,” IRNA, 21 November 2001.
[27] “Two Soldiers Killed in Mine Blasts on Iraqi Border,” Agence France Presse, 18 December 2001.
[28] “One Killed, Two Injured by Landmine in Ilam,” Agence France Presse, 29 January 2002.
[29] “One Killed, Five Wounded in Mine Explosions in Ilam,” IRNA, 6 March 2002.
[30] For details on the Ilam survey, see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 930.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 1006-1007.
[32] “Mostazafan and Janbazan Foundation” website, http://www.neda.net.ir/mostazfn/intro.htm, accessed 30 March 2002.
[33] Portfolio of Landmine Victim Assistance Programs, ICBL, September 2000; see also http://www.traumacare.no (accessed 4 July 2002).
[34] UN Resource Mobilization at http://www.mineaction.org (accessed 4 July 2002).