Iran Objects To Turkey Dams On Shared Water Resources

No Bilateral Treaty In Effect

31 May 2022 by The Water Diplomat

Iran’s foreign minister has expressed his dissatisfaction with the construction of dams along the border with Iran on shared river courses.

Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that over the past two months, he has raised the issue with his Turkish counterpart at least three times, with particular attention to the construction of dams on the Aras River.  According to Abdollahian, although Turkey and Iran have not signed any bilateral treaty on water cooperation, Iran requested four months ago that a joint bilateral committee to be established. Such a committee would enable the exchange of views and could ensure that the construction of dams by Turkey would not affect the water flowing into Iran, he said.

The Minister also indicated that this matter has not been taken up with international institutions, as Turkey is not a party to the 1997 UN Water Courses Convention. However, the minister indicated that his ministry, together with the Iranian energy ministry, had paid a visit to Turkey recently, and he expected a visit from a Turkish delegation soon. In this respect, he said, all necessary legal, political and diplomatic measures had been taken by the two countries.

The Aras River rises in the Caucasus in eastern Turkey and flows for more than 1000km in an easterly direction. It flows along the border between Turkey and Armenia, along the border between Iran and Armenia, along the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and flows ultimately into the Caspian Sea.  Turkey has already constructed six hydropower dams on the upper Aras River and is currently planning eight more. These infrastructure projects form part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project, a water and energy security project involving the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants on both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 

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