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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Iranian general accuses Israel of stealing country's clouds

He raised eyebrows with his claim of weather manipulation

Tower of Silence and Zoroastrian village, near Yazd, Iran. File. DeAgostini / Getty Images
Tower of Silence and Zoroastrian village, near Yazd, Iran. File. DeAgostini / Getty Images

An Iranian general on Monday accused Israel of manipulating weather to prevent rain over the Islamic republic, alleging his country was facing cloud "theft", before being contradicted by the nation's weather chief.

"The changing climate in Iran is suspect," Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran's Civil Defence Organisation, told a press conference, semi-official Isna news agency reported.

"Foreign interference is suspected to have played a role in climate change," Brig Gen Jalali was quoted as saying, insisting results from an Iranian scientific study "confirm" the claim.

"Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain," he said.

"On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft", Brig Gen Jalali added, citing a survey showing that above 2,200 metres all mountainous areas between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean are covered in snow, except Iran.

Iran's own meteorological service struck a sceptical note, however.

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Brig Gen Jalali "probably has documents of which I am not aware, but on the basis of meteorological knowledge, it is not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds", said the head of Iran's meteorological service Ahad Vazife, quoted by Isna.

"Iran has suffered a prolonged drought, and this is a global trend that does not apply only to Iran," Mr Vazife said.

"Raising such questions not only does not solve any of our problems, but will deter us from finding the right solutions", he added, in apparent reference to Brig Gen Jalali's claims.

The general's allegations of weather pilfering were not the first time an Iranian official has accused the country's foes of stealing its rain.

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2011 accused western countries of devising plans to "cause drought" in Iran, adding that "European countries used special equipment to force clouds to dump" their water on their continent.