Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

U.S. exempts India-backed port in Iran from sanctions

U.S. exempts India-backed port in Iran from sanctions

The United States said on Tuesday it would exempt Iran's India-backed port of Chabahar from new sanctions, recognising the value of the project to Afghanistan.

"We have chose to issue temporary allotments to a handful of countries responsible to the specific circumstances and to ensure a well supplied oil market".

With Pakistan denying India land transit through to reach Afghanistan, New Delhi developed an alternate route through Chabahar port in Iran, which it helped develop partly and also operates now.

India has warm relations with Iran and has joined China and European powers in saying it was not obligated to comply with the unilateral USA sanctions, although it has sought to appease Washington by curbing some of its Iranian oil imports.

With the 180 day grace period coming to an end on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the return of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

"President (Donald) Trump's predecessors also began crafting their Iran policy with similar bravado but came around to accepting and respecting the reality of Iran as they became more experienced in office", he added. India has committed $500 million to the project and $2 billion to build a railway line from Chabahar to Hajigaj in Afghanistan.

"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", the state department spokesperson said.

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And the U.S., the official said, seeks to "build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime's destabilising policies in the region and beyond".

Adding that while the "exception" has been granted after much deliberation, the strategic importance of these projects can not be ignored. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", said the US State Department Spokesperson.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said the US has, after extensive consideration, provided an exception under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act.

This comes as a huge diplomatic victory for India.

As an extension to the same, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), is being hailed as a "game changer".

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 vast strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.

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