U.S. Water News Online
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran welcomed the return of Hirmand River
water from Afghanistan, three years after the ousted Taliban regime
had blocked the supply, but said the flow was insufficient to revive
the region's agriculture.
Hossein Ali Shahraki, an Energy Ministry official, said the
Hirmand river reached Iran's border after flowing over 430 miles
inside Afghanistan's Helmand and Nimrouz provinces.
``The water reached Iran but the flow of water is so low that it
can't revive the region's agriculture. It's only sufficient for
drinking,'' Shahraki told The Associated Press.
Afghanistan made it possible for Hirmand River water to return to
Iran as part of an agreement reached during President Mohammad
Khatami's visit to Kabul in August, the first such visit in 40 years.
Shahraki warned if the current water level remains the same, the
water will not revive Hamoun Lake in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan
The ousted hard-line Taliban militia turned the taps off in 1999
after relations with Iran worsened. As a result, Iran's Hamoun Lake
dried up and sandstorms buried about 124 villages and destroyed
farmland, according to official Iranian reports.
Afghan Ambassador to Iran Ahmad Moshahed said his government was
committed to a 1972 agreement that defined the flow of water to Iran
and said the resumption of water was a ``good will'' gesture on the
part of Afghanistan.
Moshahed said Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah had hinted
that the decision to allow water back into Iran could be
``temporary'' and that the continued flow of water would depend on
``Several years of drought has brought disasters not only to Iran
but Afghanistan too. Despite water shortages, Afghanistan has decided
to share the river water with Iran but it may stop, depending on
climate conditions,'' he told the AP.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the return
of water to Iran was a ``great victory'' of Khatami's August visit to
Afghanistan, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
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