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Iran urges Afghanistan to immediately resolve water rights issues

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows boatmen in wetlands in Sistan region in southeastern Iran.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has called on Afghanistan to immediately resolve issues surrounding Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River.

In decrees addressed on Wednesday to the Iranian Foreign Ministry and a government department on regional cooperation, Mokhber urged the authorities to press the ruling group in Kabul to honor Afghanistan’s obligations under a 1973 treaty signed with Iran on water allocations from Helmand.

The official said that the release of water from dams built on the river on the Afghan side of the border will be desperately needed in Iran to prevent a shortage of water in southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan over the upcoming months.

“The ruling group in Afghanistan must commit to this water right as stipulated under international treaties and resolve the issue as soon as possible,” said the Iranian vice president in his decree.

He asked officials to introduce interim measures to prevent any shortage of drinking water in southeastern Iran over the summer and said that the region will benefit from a stable supply of water from desalination plants on the Sea of Oman within the next few years.

The ruling Taliban group in Afghanistan announced in January that they had released water from the Kamal Khan Dam on Helmand for a first time decades.

Iranian authorities said at the time that the decision had been taken to comply with the terms of the Afghan-Iranian Treaty on water allocation from Helmand.

However, later statements showed that the Iranian officials were not happy with the amount of water that had reached marches and wetlands in the Sistan region.

The Taliban has yet to officially admit that it has released water from Kamal Khan Dam to allow Iran to enjoy its water rights under the 1973 treaty.

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