Tehran asks Kabul to be committed to water treaty

June 24, 2022 - 16:30

TEHRAN – Iran has asked Afghanistan to be committed to the 1973 Helmand River Water Treaty, according to which Iran should receive 820 million cubic meters of water from the Helmand River.

The Iranian deputy energy minister for water affairs Mohammad Javanbakht insisted the Taliban-led government in Kabul do more to implement the terms of the agreement.  

Javanbakht said on Thursday that Iran had received only 4 million cubic meters (mcm) from an annual water right of 820 mcm under the Helmand River Water Treaty since the start of the current water year in October, Press TV reported.

Javanbakht said an Afghan delegation attending the 25th meeting of Helmand River Water Commissars in Tehran on June 15-17 had been briefed about Iran’s concerns on water rights issues.

“We hope the Afghan delegation will convey Iran’s clear message to their rulers about the need to commit to the 1973 treaty between the two countries,” he was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.

Since taking control of Kabul in August, the Taliban government has vowed to implement the terms of the water agreement with Iran and reverse a trend set by a previous U.S.-backed administration that had failed to commit to the treaty.

However, Taliban ministers have blamed drought and technical issues for the low supply of water from Iran in the past months.

Taliban ministers have blamed drought and technical issues for the low supply of water from Iran in the past months.

Javanbakht said Afghanistan has yet to allow a visit by Iranian experts to investigate facilities upstream of its Kajakai Dam to verify claims made by the Afghan side about the drought.

He reiterated Iran’s previous criticism of Afghanistan’s move last year to complete the Kamal Khan Dam on the Helmand River, which is known as Hirmand in Iran, saying the dam has deprived Iran of its water rights under the 1973 treaty while causing a major environmental crisis in the region.

In May, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran was pursuing its water rights from the Helmand River through legal entities.

“We are following up on the issue of preserving Iran's water rights from the Helmand River through legal approaches so that the interim Afghanistan governing body would provide Iran with the desired water rights from this river,” Khatibzadeh said. 

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in February that he was satisfied with good relations with Iran, adding that the Taliban administration is committed to Iran's water rights.

Mujahid said that there has been a drought in Afghanistan in recent years, so if there is enough water on the Afghan side, Iran will definitely benefit from this water according to the existing agreements.

Later, the Taliban Ministry of Water and Energy said in a statement that the Taliban government was “fully committed” to the existing agreement on Iran's water rights. 

The statement said, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in connection with the management of water in the Helmand Sea, fully agrees with the technical contents, legal basis and protocols on Helmand Sea water concluded in 1973 between the governments of Afghanistan and Iran.”

The statement added, “We are ready to work with strong determination to implement this permanent agreement with our friendly, neighboring and Islamic country of Iran in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust.”


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