Iran Opens Chabahar Port: Pak Isolated, Indian Commerce To Get Big Boost

Iran Opens Chabahar Port: Pak Isolated, Indian Commerce To Get Big Boost

Iran Opens Chabahar Port: Pak Isolated, Indian Commerce To Get Big Boost

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated on Sunday a newly built extension to the country's main Arabian Sea outlet, the strategic Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, which more than triples its capacity and poses a challenge for a port under construction in neighboring Pakistan.

The ministers at the inauguration also commended the shipment of the first cargo through Chabahar, from India to Afghanistan, which comprised 110,000 tons of wheat.

Just a day before the historic inauguration, EAM Sushma Swaraj made a surprise stopover at Iran on her way back from Russian Federation and met with her counterpart Javed Zarif.

Chabahar Port is a collaboration between India, Afghanistan, and Iran, to continue trading through Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan (which is constantly denying entry to India) for transit access and finding an alternative to entering the landlocked central Asian countries.

The inking of the port deal had caused tensions between Tehran and Islamabad at the time. Islamabad, however, sees in this an attempt by India to use Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan.

The country has already completed the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan that will enable Afghanistan to access the sea ports in Iran and end its dependence on Pakistan for sea access.

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The port was inaugurated in the presence of representatives from India, Afghanistan and several other countries of the region.

Iran has launched one of its major post-nuclear deal projects - the port of Chabahar - pushing further for engagement with the global community, days before the US Congress' expected decision on whether Washington will pull out of the landmark worldwide accord. The Indian government has committed Dollars 500 million to Chabahar, with an aim to join an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries. India's state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan.

Chabahar as the only oceanic port of Iran is located 645 km to the south of Zahedan, the provincial capital city. And India's $2bn commitment to Afghanistan for developing supporting infrastructure including the Chabahar-Hajigaj railway line.

Thus, India regards the port as a strategic response to China's development of the Gwadar Port, and its pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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.

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.

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