Photo: Tehran Times

Iranian officials to visit Kabul to discuss Helmand River water rights

Iranian media have reported that Ali Salajegheh, the head of Iran’s Department of Environment, will travel to Kabul to pursue Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River.

“We are discussing the matter with the Taliban officials and in a week or two a delegation will go to Afghanistan to follow up on the water rights issue.” Ali Salajegheh told the Iranian ISNA news agency on Thursday.

According to ISNA News Agency, Iran’s ambassador in Afghanistan, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, recently said in a statement, “Based on the measures that have been taken, water will hopefully be released from Helmand River this year.” He also emphasized that the extent of the Taliban’s adherence to the Helmand River Treaty is a significant factor in the interaction of the two countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, recently stated in a tweet that Iran will not give up on its water rights over the Helmand River.

Iran’s water rights over the Helmand River have long been a point of dispute between the two countries. In a treaty signed in 1973, Afghanistan committed to the flow of twenty-two cubic meters per second into Iran. But Iran has long complained about the commitment not being fulfilled.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan has built a dam named Kamal Khan along the Helmand River in southwestern Nimruz province with a storage capacity of 52 million cubic meters of water, at a cost of over $200 million. The dam has the capacity to irrigate about 174 thousand hectares of agricultural land and was inaugurated by former President Ashraf Ghani in March 2021. Ghani then emphasized that Afghanistan’s neighbors should pay for the water they receive, either in oil or money.