The 2003 Bam earthquake was a major earthquake that struck Bam and the surrounding Kerman province of southeastern Iran at 1:56 AM UTC (5:26 AM Iran Standard Time) on Friday, December 26, 2003. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.6; estimated by the United States Geological Survey. The earthquake was particularly destructive, with the death toll amounting to 26,271 people and injuring an additional 30,000. The effects of the earthquake were exacerbated by the use of mud brick as the standard construction medium; many of the area's structures did not comply with earthquake regulations set in 1989.
Due to the earthquake, relations between Iran and the United States thawed. Following the earthquake the U.S. offered direct humanitarian assistance to Iran and in return the state promised to comply with an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency which supports greater monitoring of its nuclear interests. In total a reported 44 countries sent in personnel to assist in relief operations and 60 countries offered assistance.
Following the earthquake, the Iranian government seriously considered moving the capital of Tehran in fear of an earthquake occurring there. Psychologically the earthquake had an impact on many of the victims for years afterwards. A new institutional framework in Iran was established to address problems of urban planning and to reconstruct the city of Bam in compliance with strict seismic regulations. This process marked a turning point, as government ministers and international organizations collaborated under this framework with local engineers and local people to organize the systematic rebuilding of the city.
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“It is crystal clear to me that if Arabs put down a draft resolution blaming Israel for the recent earthquake in Iran it would probably have a majority, the U.S. would veto it and Britain and France would abstain.”
—Amos Oz (b. 1939)