Iran calls Taliban’s declaration on Helmand River ‘contradictory and incorrect’

May 20, 2023 - 23:3

TEHRAN – Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday dismissing the Taliban’s remarks on water rights from the Helmand River as “contradictory and incorrect”.

Since coming to power in summer of 2022, the Taliban has promised to honor Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River. However, until this date it has refused to do so.

The Helmand River is the longest watercourse in Afghanistan. It originates from the Hindu Kush Mountains, west of Kabul, and flows in an arc southwest until it empties out into the Hamoun wetlands in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan Province.

Iran and Afghanistan signed a treaty in 1973 that “clearly and unambiguously” specified the Iranian side’s water rights, the ministry said. “This is a legal, objective and definite right” and Afghanistan is committed to provide Iran’s share of the water and avoid taking “any action, which fully or partly, strips Iran of its water rights, under Article 5 of the Treaty.”

Writing on his Twitter account on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in recent months he had repeatedly asked the interim Afghan foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi that his country honor its commitments by providing a condition for Iranian technical teams to assess the volume of water flowing from the Helman River but they have refused.

Abdollahian added, “Sistan suffers from drought. The criterion that there is water or not is technical and objective visit and not issuance of political statement.”

The Foreign Ministry statement said, “As long as the experts of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not allowed to visit the route and upstream of Helmand as part of the Treaty — especially Article 5 of Protocol No. 1 of that Treaty — any comment regarding the depletion of Helmand’s water is not accepted,” according to Press TV.

The ministry reiterated Iran's emphasis on technical cooperation and study in the area of exploration through the water commissioners of the two sides and its demand for a "detailed" investigation of the water situation in Helmand and provision of the Iranian side’s quota in accordance with the treaty.

Afghanistan has built dams over the course of the river and diverted the path of water.

“Continuing to fill the diversionary Kamal Khan dam, deviate the natural course of the Helmand River and disrupt the river’s natural conditions, in addition to the non-cooperation of the Afghan authorities in determining the locations of water delivery and installing technical systems related to water level measurement, are clear violations of Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the Helmand Treaty.” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

In its statement the ministry said Iran has always respected the principle of good neighborliness and neighborly rights.

The ministry added Iran reserves the right to act against Afghanistan’s “unacceptable” non-adherence to the treaty on Iran’s water rights.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures and underscores the full responsibility of Afghanistan in this regard,” it stated.

Based on the 1973 Treaty, Iran should receive an annual share of 820 million cubic meters from the river. However, Afghanistan has grossly violated it in letter and spirit, endangering the lives of many Iranians who rely on Hamoun wetlands for drinking water, agriculture, and fishing.

Special envoy says Taliban should have “constructive interaction” with neighbors

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s interim ambassador to Kabul and Tehran’s special envoy for Afghanistan, has suggested that if the Talban rulers want to establish a stable government in their country, they should have a “constructive interaction” with their neighbors.

The special envoy added if it is proven that there is water in the dams built over the course of the river but they refuse to allow Iran’s share of water to flow into Hamoun wetlands then should be held “accountable”.

“In that case Iran knows how it should act,” he noted, according to

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