EghtesadOnline: Iran's declared policy regarding trans-border rivers and shared water resources is to interact with neighbors within the framework of bilateral agreements and build technical and diplomatic cooperation, head of the Energy Ministry’s department of border rivers and joint water sources said.
“We have accords with all neighbors on shared water resources and several meetings have been held over the years between joint committees to resolve the existing problems,” ISNA quoted Isa Bozorgzadeh as saying.
Iran is home to an extended network of rivers, most of which originate in the rugged mountain regions and flow into interior basins.
Nineteen rivers run along Iran's international boundaries and the country shares these with six neighbors, Financial Tribune reported.
“Agreements on water rights of border rivers, have been signed between Iran and Afghanistan (Hirmand River), Azerbaijan and Armenia (Aras River), Turkmenistan (14 rivers including Harir, Atrek and Sumbar), Turkey (Karasu and Sarisu rivers), and Iraq (Arvand River),” Bozorgzadeh said.
Water has been one of the issues Tehran has strived to build its collaboration with neighbors and pool minds with the relevant officials in the six capitals.
Regarding the Hirmand (also Helmand) River, he said that according to a 1973 treaty between Iran and Afghanistan, Iran’s share from the river was 820 million cubic meters a year.
Nevertheless, “using the Hirmand River water has always been one of the important subjects in talks with Kabul over the years,” he noted.
In the past 15 years, 20 meetings to sort out water issues have been held between the two neighbors. Negotiations usually center on resolving disputes over the Hirmand water share of the two countries.
The treaty with Afghanistan obliges it to allocate specific amounts of water to Iran during specific seasons. It also obliges Kabul not to restrict Iran's share of the joint basin under any circumstances. However, the Afghans for years have respected the treaty in the breach.
Helmand River — the longest watercourse in Afghanistan — rises in the Hindu Kush mountains west of Kabul and empties into the Hamoun wetlands that straddle the border between the two countries, seeping into Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province and Nimruz Province in Afghanistan.
“There are many common areas of cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan and the water issue can facilitate the development of mutual ties and bonds between the two sides,” Bozorgzadeh was quoted as saying by the news agency.
Referring to Aras River in the northwest, he said, “Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan share the river and there are several agreements about the water rights of the three countries and dam construction.”
Last month Iran and Azerbaijan signed a protocol on the sustainable use of water resources of this river.
There is an estimated 1.3 billion cubic meters of water stored in the Aras Dam that will be divided between the two neighbors.
Khoda-Afarin Dam, another dam being constructed on the river, will have the capacity to hold 1.6 billion cubic meters and will be shared equally.
Iran cooperates with Armenia in monitoring the water quality of Aras River. “Increasing hydropower capacity is also on the agenda,” Bozorgzadeh said, noting that there are plans to build two hydroelectric power plants to be used jointly with the Azeris and two plants to generate electricity for Iran and Armenia.
“According to earlier treaties, there is extensive cooperation between Iran and Turkmenistan, the most important of which is the construction of the barrier of the Friendship (Doosti) Dam.
Built on Harir River (called Tejen in Turkmenistan), the dam was completed in 2004 and both sides agreed that each would have an equal right to the water that amount to 820 million cubic meters. The dam provides drinking water to the surrounding areas along with hydroelectric power.
Harir River is located in the Germab mountain range, 80 kilometers south of the Turkmen town of Serahs and 250km east of the Iranian shrine city of Mashhad.
Regarding the Sarisu and Karasu rivers the water official said Iran has signed a protocol with Turkey wherein the water rights of the two nations are clarified.
A similar agreement has been signed with Iraq on the legal rights of Arvand River (known in Iraq as Shatt-al-Arab).