In a relief for India, the United States has exempted New Delhi from the imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar Port in Iran as well as the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan.
“After extensive consideration, the Secretary (of State) has provided for an exception from imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, with respect to the development of Chabahar Port, construction of an associated railway and for shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as the country’s continued imports of Iranian petroleum products,” a US State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.
The move by the Donald Trump administration is considered as an endorsement by Washington of India’s major role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.
On Monday, the US imposed “the toughest ever” sanctions on Tehran aimed at altering the Iranian regime’s “behaviour”. The sanctions cover Iran’s banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.
India was among the eight countries that were granted temporary waiver for purchase of Iranian oil. US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo had said these countries have shown significant reduction in oil purchase from Iran.
When asked on the fate of Chabahar Port after the US reimposed all its sanctions on Iran, the spokesperson said, “This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief.”
In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.
The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 kms from Chabahar. It is also considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.
With PTI inputs