1011 GMT July 20, 2019
Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani voiced his country’s readiness to cooperate with Iran in order to resolve disputes over the use of shared water resources and the issue of Afghan refugees in Iran.
He made the remarks in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In violation of a 1973 treaty with Iran, Afghanistan has refused to supply its neighbor with a share of water from the Hirmand River, which rises in Afghanistan and flows through the eastern parts of Iran.
According to the treaty, Afghanistan is committed to share the waters of the river with Iran and supply it with 26 cubic meters of water per second, or 850 million cubic meters per annum.
Speaking at an international conference on sandstorms and environmental issues in Tehran in July, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized the Afghan government’s dam projects.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the issue [water dams] which is apparently damaging our environment,” Rouhani said. “Construction of several dams in Afghanistan, such as Kajaki, Kamal Khan, Salma and others in the north and south of Afghanistan, affect our Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces.”
Kabul’s failure to abide by the agreement has accelerated an environmental disaster in southwestern Afghanistan and eastern Iran.
In 1950, Iran and Afghanistan created the Hirmand River Delta Commission, tasked with measuring and dividing the river flow between the two countries, and hammered out the treaty in 1973.
However, political events such as a coup in Afghanistan in 1973, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and subsequent civil war and Taliban rule had a damaging impact on the fate of the Hamoon wetlands.