Taliban gives Iranian team the go-ahead to visit Helmand River: Envoy

Iranian envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi said on Saturday that the two sides have agreed that an Iranian team may inspect the water levels of the Helmand River.

This comes following weeks of tension between Tehran and Kabul after Iranian officials accused the Taliban of violating a 1973 water treaty. Tehran accused the Taliban of blocking the flow of water to Iran.

The Taliban has not yet confirmed or rejected claims by Qomi, who told Iran’s state TV IRNA that his country expects to be supplied with its rightful amount of water once the team has wrapped up its visit.

Qomi also criticized Afghanistan for having built the Kamal Khan Dam along the Helmand River and said Iran had not been informed of plans to build the dam, which reduces the flow of water to Iran.

Qomi said they welcome the Taliban’s move to accept the terms and conditions of the 1973 water treaty and said there is no tension between the two sides over the actual treaty.

“They said that they agree… We don’t need to say there is a rift (on the matter)… We have told Afghanistan authorities that the issue has created problems only for the Sistan province residents,” Qomi said.

Tension however mounted last month after the Iranian president warned his government will take action if the matter is not addressed by the Taliban.

Taliban has repeatedly said it is committed to the treaty but due to drought and climate change there is not enough water in the Helmand River to fulfill its agreement with Iran.

Based on the treaty, Afghanistan is obliged to supply Iran with 26 cubic meters of water per second or 850 million cubic meters per year. However, the water the currently flows to Iran is considerably less than this.