TurkeyIranMiddle East

Turkish Water Projects Affecting Iran’s NW Regions: Minister

The Iranian interior minister expressed concern about the detrimental effects of Turkey’s water projects on the northwestern areas of Iran.

In a meeting with Turkish Deputy Minister of Interior Tayyip Sabri Erdil, held in Tehran on Wednesday, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said he has raised the issue of water projects at the border regions in a recent meeting with his Turkish counterpart.

“The projects being implemented by Turkey cause problems for the northwestern strip of Iran,” Vahidi added.

He also noted that the border wall that Turkey is building along the common border with Iran has adversely affected the water currents and seasonal rivers and dried out the water sources in Iran.

For his part, the Turkish deputy minister said the management of water resources is a bilateral issue whose settlement requires cooperation, interaction and consultation.

In comments at the Parliament in May, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian expressed Tehran’s opposition to Turkey’s move to construct dams on joint water resources at the border areas.

“We in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not convinced of Turkey’s dam construction on the border water (resources) and express it loudly that such a Turkish move is not acceptable to us and we are opposed to it,” the foreign minister stated, calling for interaction between the Iranian administration and parliament to deal with the issue.

Asked about Iran’s plans to pursue the case internationally, Amirabdollahian said, “If the government of Turkey was a party to the 1997 New York Convention (on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses), we would be able to sue the Turkish government at the international organizations. But since Turkey is not a party to that convention, we have to pursue the case through dialogue and bilateral negotiations.”

Iran’s Department of Environment had already warned that Turkey’s move to construct Ilisu Dam over Tigris River would pose a serious environmental threat to Iraq and eventually Iran by reducing the entry of Tigris water to Iraqi territory by 56%.

Over the past 50 years, Turkey’s State Hydraulic Works (known by its Turkish acronym DSI) has built 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as part of its multi-billion dollar Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP). The GAP’s effect on downstream rivers has left large parts of Syria and Iraq in severe drought.

Over the last two decades, the DSI also has been damming water resources on both the Kura and Aras rivers. Turkey has substantially increased its dam-building efforts on the upper Aras river. Compared to the projects on the Kura, Turkey has built a greater number of dams on the Aras, though with a lower capacity. From 2012 to 2014, Turkey constructed six hydropower plants on the Aras and is currently planning eight more.

More and potentially larger projects are still in the queue. Among these, the recently announced Soylemez Dam particularly stands out. With a planned height of 113 meters and a carrying capacity of 1.4 billion cubic meters, the project would create the fourth-largest reservoir in Turkey.

Back to top button