News:According to US officials,the US has provided a rare exemption to India from sanctions on the Chabahar port in Iran.
About Chabahar port:
- Chabahar port is a seaport in Chabahar in South-Eastern Iran.Its location lies in the Gulf of Oman.It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
- The Chabahar Agreement was signed in June 2015 and approved by Iran’s Guardian Council in November 2016.
- The port is seen as a gateway for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.
Importance of Chabahar Port:
- The most important significance of Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
- The port is also beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port.
- The Chabahar port is also seen as a feeder port to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe, and Central Asia.
- Chabahar port also fosters closer ties between India and Iran and allows India to secure cheaper energy imports from Iran.
Reasons for exempting India from sanctions:
- Afghanistan is a landlocked country which depends on Pakistan for trade.All its trade goes largely through the Pakistani ports.However, Pakistan denies transit to India for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- Hence,the Chabahar project is a lifeline for war-torn Afghanistan to get humanitarian supplies from India.
- The project also fits in line with the U.S.A’s overall policy to give India an important role in Afghanistan.
- Further,the US also does not want to close all options with Iran.The US is looking forward to negotiating new terms and conditions with Iran.
- But there is a concern that commercial viability of the project can get impacted if there will be no movement of energy supplies through it.
About Gwadar port:
- Gwadar is part of Pakistan’s mineral rich southwestern Baluchistan province.
- It is being developed as part of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
- It is a part of China’s ambitious plan Belt and Road initiative (BRI) to build energy and transport links, connecting the western Chinese region of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.