In a massive development, the United States on Wednesday has exempted India from imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar port in Iran, along with the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan.
The decision by the Trump administration is a seen as a recognition by Washington of India's role in development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the development of war-torn Afghanistan.
“After extensive consideration, the Secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the Port of Afghanistan's continued imports of Iranian petroleum products, " stated the State Department press release.
Asserting that the President’s South Asia strategy supports the economic growth and development in Afghanistan, the US declared to extend close relations with both Afghanistan and India:
“The President's South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India. We seek to build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime's destabilizing policies in the region and beyond.”
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.
The US on Monday, imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on a defiant Iran 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.
Importance of Chabahar Port for India
In May 2016, Narendra Modi visited Iran where he pledged up to $500 million to develop and operate Iran's Chabahar port as part of a trilateral engagement between India, Iran and Afghanistan.
The first phase of the Chabahar Port was inaugurated in December 2017, which then opened a strategic route between India, Iran and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
Chabahar is a crucial, yet success story for India, with India being one of the very few countries to engage in trade links with Iran.
The Chabahar has two ports, namely the Shahid Kalantari and the Shahid Beheshti, each with five berths.
This port will not only boost India's access to Iran, but will also serve as the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The Chabahar Port will also cut one-third transportation cost and time for Indian trade with Iran and Afghanistan, in the wake of Pakistan refusing transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two Asian countries.
(With inputs from PTI)