1227 GMT March 27, 2019
In a meeting with UN Resident Coordinator in Iran Ugochi Daniels, Isa Kalantari referred to the crisis created for Sistan Basin in southeastern Iran and its 500,000 dwellers, saying “Afghanistan avoids allocating the officially agreed water right due to US pressures and interferences, which has endangered health and economy of the people in the Iranian side”.
The Sistan Basin is an inland endorheic basin encompassing large parts of southwestern Afghanistan and minor parts of southeastern Iran, one of the driest regions in the world and an area subjected to prolonged droughts.
“Iran, however, has been bound to ethical principles and good neighborliness and has hosted more than 2.5 million Afghan migrants,” Kalantari added.
“All the legal Afghan immigrants have the same rights as Iranians,” he stressed.
Elaborating on Iran's water shortage issue, he said that the problem in Iran is much more serious than most parts of the world.
The UN official said that UN's priority is to promote depovertization, public welfare, healthy environment and sustainable development.
Referring to the US sanctions on Iran, she said that the sanctions are not a problem only for Iran, they are also a challenge for the UN.
She also said that unilateralism is one of the most important problems in the world.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry sent two protest letters to Afghanistan in March and April to remind Kabul of Iran’s rights under a 1973 treaty.
Iran and Afghanistan have a disagreement over allocation of water from the Hirmand River, as both sides suffer from droughts and climate change.
In a move in violation of a 1973 treaty with Iran, Afghanistan has refused to supply its neighbor with the share of water from the river, which rises in Afghanistan and flows through eastern parts of Iran, according to Iran’s Energy Ministry.
According to the treaty, Afghanistan is committed to share the water of the Hirmand River with Iran and supply it with 26 cubic meters of Hirmand water per second or 850 million cubic meters per annum.
The annual 850 million cubic meters of water for Iran has been initially allocated for drinking and irrigation of farmlands, which falls far short of the minimum flow required to feed Hamoun wetlands, which straddle the Iran-Afghan common border and are fed by the Hirmand River.
In the last two decades, the fertile wetlands have substantially dried up. The Taliban government closed the sluices to the Kajaki Dam on Hirmand until 2002. This compounded the impact of the worst drought the region has experienced in many decades, caused in part by climate change and warming temperatures.
In June, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour met the Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to talk about water management issues.
The Afghan president said at the time that Afghanistan has had good progress in water management and has presented some plans to be implemented in the near future to pave the way for water management.