Chabahar: Why US shielded India’s interests (Two days before the crucial…
Chabahar: Why US shielded India’s interests
Two days before the crucial talks took place in Moscow to find ways to end the unending civil war in Afghanistan, the US government announced a waiver to its sanctions on Indian investments in Iran’s oceanic port, Chabahar on NOV 1, 2018.
It perfectly suits the US that India rather than China is developing the Iranian port. Hence, the sanctions waiver for Chabahar
India lobbied for greater access to Kabul and Central Asia for business related and other reasons
The government and businesses in Kabul too lobbied for Indian access, as they view in Chabahar an opportunity to liberate themselves from the control of Pakistan
But this is not all. Apparently, the US, has its own reasons to grant this waiver.
India signed a trilateral connectivity deal in May 2016 with Iran and Afghanistan that allows it to bypass Pakistan and reach Europe and Central Asia.
The hub of this connectivity agreement is the Chabahar Port, whose management was given to India for 18 months.
Long before, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in her 2+2 meeting with US officials, had made it clear that New Delhi only recognised UN sanctions and not bilateral ones between nations.
India was trying to explore with Tehran a rupee-riyal arrangement to hasten the port’s progress as well pay for its oil purchases.
It was also conscious of the fact that the US sanctions would prevent the use of Brussels-based SWIFT communication systems, which allows inter-bank transfer of funds
Chabahar harbour is located on the semi-desert Makran Coast of Iran, which represents the shortest route for Afghanistan to the sea.
For Afghan traders it is 700 km shorter than Iran’s Bandar Abbas port and 1,000 km closer than the Pakistan’s port of Karachi.
A back of the envelope calculation shows that the Afghan businessmen will save 50 per cent of their shipping costs when they use Chabahar.
So enthused are the Afghans after the the US waiver to this port that they are planning to launch their own shipping line that will fly their national flag.
Also ,offers a guarantee of the safety of US troops if Taliban talks fail, to flee — not through a hostile Pakistan, but through this Iran port.
India must remain hyperalert on the U.S. waiver on Iranian oil imports and Chabahar
India should entertain no illusions about the Trump administration’s wish that it should open up as a key energy market for the U.S.
As US believes itself to be the largest producer of Oil & Gas
In 2017, India imported 8 million barrels of American crude.
Until this July it had imported more than 15 million barrels of U.S. crude.