EXPLAINED: Why India Taking Over Iran's Strategic Chabahar Port For 10 Years Is Significant


(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Enhancing its bilateral relations, India will sign a 10-year pact with Iran for the management of strategic Chabahar port on Monday in Tehran. Union minister for ports, shipping and waterways Sarbananda Sonowal flew to Tehran in an Indian Air Force aircraft on Monday morning to sign the agreement from the Indian side. His visit assumes significance since the Lok Sabha election across the country is underway.

In an effort to avoid the usage of Pakistan's Karachi port for transportation of goods, India developed a port in Iran's southeastern region Chabahar to maintain the supply to Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian countries. The Chabahar port is also situated along the Gulf of Oman.

After the United States imposed sanctions on Iran, the development of the port saw slow progress.
In 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tehran he had signed a series of pacts with Iran. Among them, India's investment of $500 million into developing Iran's Chabahar port was the major one. Later, the then Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani joined the two leaders to ink a trilateral transit agreement that will significantly ease the connectivity between the three countries and boost trade.

Let's know about the importance of Chabahar port

Under the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), Chabahar Port serves as a transit hub for CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) nations. First mooted in 2000, the idea of INSTC was to build a transport corridor connecting Russia's Baltic Sea coast to India's western ports in the Arabian Sea via Iran.

Initially, Russia, India and Iran inked a pact to develop the 7,200-km-long International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) in 2002 and Azerbaijan signed up for the project in 2005. Later, a total of 13 countries ratified this agreement. The countries are --- India, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine. The agreement which will be signed on Monday, will replace the original contract. It will be valid for 10 years, and reportedly automatically extended.

The original pact of 2016 only covered the Shahid Beheshti terminal of Chabahar Port and used to be renewed every year. It must be noted that the Chabahar port is located near the Iran-Pakistan border and is a little over 60 miles from the Pakistani port of Gwadar which is being developed by the Chinese.

It is considered a response to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In January, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Tehran, met Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash and discussed establishing a long-term cooperation framework on the strategically vital Chabahar Port.

Last month, in an interview with an English news channel, Iranian Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi said that the agreement would be signed soon. He had said, "Regarding, Chabahar, has three main dimensions, strategic, legal, and technical. Strategically, both sides have agreed to implement. Connectivity is the backbone of ties. Legally, it's a long-term contract, so all differences should be resolved. Technically, we have made good progress, very soon it will be signed. India is busy with elections."

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