Afghanistan says Iran blocking fuel trucks


KABUL: Iran is preventing hundreds of fuel tankers from crossing into Afghanistan and supplying US-led NATO troops fighting the Taliban, senior officials in Kabul said Wednesday.
Around 1,600 trucks have been prevented from crossing for three weeks and the situation threatens to push up fuel prices, which have already skyrocketed in recent days, at the start of winter.
Although Kabul says the tankers would be used to supply ordinary Afghans, deputy commerce minister Mohammad Sharif Sharifi told AFP that Iranian officials were sceptical. “I confirm that Iranian officials have been preventing around 1,600 fuel tankers from crossing into Afghanistan for 20 days,” he said.
“They (Iran) have not officially given us any reason for this blockade but in a meeting that I had with the Iranian commerce attache in Kabul, he said that the Iranian government believes these tankers were going to supply foreign troops in Afghanistan.” Sharifi added that unless the situation was resolved, it could cause “serious problems including an increase in fuel prices.”
The blockades have occurred at a number of locations, including the main Afghan-Iranian border crossing at Islam Qalah in the western province of Herat.
Afghanistan’s foreign ministry says it is holding talks with Iranian officials in a bid to convince them that the fuel is not for military use.
“We have taken all necessary measures to help lift the ban,” said foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Faqiri.
“We have told Iranian officials through diplomatic channels in Kabul and Tehran that it is the people of Afghanistan who will suffer from this blockade.”
Around 30 percent of Afghanistan’s fuel is thought to come through transport routes from Iran, with much of the rest coming through the central Asian republics which border Afghanistan.