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Ambitious Trans-Iran Canal still waiting for construction to begin: “Competitor” to Suez Canal unlikely to see construction begin any time soon

Despite having been officially announced for several years now, construction on the Trans-Iranian Canal Project has as of July 2017 still not begun. A number of reasons have been given to explain this delay including the high fixed costs required to build this canal. Official estimates put the cost of the project in the range of $10bn but other estimates suggest the figure could at least be double the amount. Whilst the authorities claim the returns from this project will justify the high cost of the project for the construction of the canal, the silence on this project in recent years suggests otherwise.

Added into all of this is the dilemma of Iran-West relations, and how the canal project would be hit negatively if there was a renewal of sanctions. Western nations sitting on the Baltic coast are likely to be some of the users of this canal, but with the existence of the Suez Canal, they already have an alternative present which they can use in times of diplomatic tensions. Environmentalists and scientists also have been some of the strongest opponents of this project arguing that the construction of the canal will lead to serious damage in the eco-systems of the various regions of Iran through which this canal is set to pass, as well as the Caspian Sea whose delicate balance will be further damaged with the introduction of a new canal.

Scientists have also warned that the regularity of earthquakes in this part of the world mean that there is a serious risk of the canal flooding nearby areas if a really strong earthquake hits Iran, which as history suggests is a possibility. A breach in the canal could lead to serious environmental as well as material damage. All in all, despite the project having been announced several years ago, the above reasons are just some which explain why no construction on the project has begun even five years after its announcement.