India-Iran deal: US sanctions no deterrent for Delhi - The Tribune India

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India-Iran deal

US sanctions no deterrent for Delhi

India-Iran deal

Photo for representational purpose only. - iStock file photo



THE spectre of US sanctions has failed to deter India from signing a 10-year contract with Iran to develop and operate the Iranian port of Chabahar. The deal is expected to enhance regional connectivity and facilitate trade involving India, Iran, Afghanistan and other nations. The long-term contract was signed by Indian Ports Global Limited and the Port & Maritime Organisation of Iran. Located in the restive Sistan-Balochistan province on Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port will offer Indian goods a gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia through a road and rail project known as the International North-South Transport Corridor. Importantly, the route will bypass Pakistan, whose relations with Iran have deteriorated in recent months and whose ties with India have been in deep freeze for several years. US sanctions on Iran over its purported nuclear programme have restricted the operations of this port, which New Delhi had proposed to develop back in 2003.

In one fell swoop, India has cocked a snook at Pakistan as well as the US. Reacting to the Chabahar deal, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said: ‘US sanctions on Iran remain in place and we will continue to enforce them.’ Sounding a note of caution, Patel said anyone considering business deals with Iran needed to be aware of the potential risk, especially in terms of sanctions.

However, like in the case of the purchase of Russian oil at discounted prices, India has chosen to prioritise its own interests and not allowed existing geopolitical alignments to become an impediment. Last year, India had used the Chabahar port to send 20,000 tonnes of wheat to aid-starved Afghanistan. It is evident that New Delhi is going all out to make its presence felt in the neighbourhood, even if this ruffles a few feathers. Inevitably, the US will have no option but to let an assertive India have its way.

#Afghanistan


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