Chabahar Port inaugurated by Iranian President; allows India to bypass Pakistan

Posted December 05, 2017

When asked whether Iran is prepared for the USA to return to sanctions, Mohammad Rastad, Iran's Deputy Transport Minister in ports and maritime affairs, said "Nothing's happened as yet, has it?" While India made a deal worth over Rs 50,000 crore previous year to develop Chabahar special economic zone, it had already taken several other measures to increase cooperation with Afghanistan and Iran.

India has prepared massive investment plans, which will include a network of roads and railways at a cost of United States dollars 15 billion, as part of its strategic push in the area.

A total of $1 billion has been spent on preparing and equipping the first phase of Chabahar's Shahid Beheshti Port.

Though the Chabahar port was partially built by India in the 90s, a host of geopolitical issues, including United States sanctions on Iran, and India's sudden apathy had put paid to such ambitions.

Those nations are developing the $46bn China Pakistan Economic Corridor that winds down to Pakistan's port of Gwadar, less than 100km from Chabahar.

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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani poses during the inauguration of Chabahar port near the Pakistani border in Iran on Sunday.

"Chabahar should also have road, rail and airport to be all set for imports and exports", he added.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the ministers also deliberated on trilateral pact relating to the mega connectivity project and expressed satisfaction on the completion of the ratification procedures by Afghanistan and India.

Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan.

Chabahar Port is geographically located in a very convenient position for India, which is in Southeast Iran at the Gulf of Oman and serves as Iran's only Oceanic Port in the Indian Ocean.

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A few months after the nuclear deal with Iran went into effect in January 2016 and sanctions were lifted, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country where he agreed to open a $500m line of credit to develop the port - almost half of what Iran is planning to invest.

In October, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar, which is about 140km from Pakistan's Gwadar port.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the port would reinforce mutual and regional cooperation between Iran and India.

The port will increase the capacity of loading and unloading of the ships as well as the employment rate in the province, also an official with the Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization said on the sidelines of the ceremony.

A day earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a meeting with her Iranian counterpart, Javed Zarif, in Tehran to review the implementation of the Chabahar Port, India Times said.

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