US exempts Chabahar port-related activities from its sanctions

08 November, 2018, 06:02 | Author: Billie Castillo
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

India was, on Monday, among eight countries that received a temporary waiver on U.S sanctions with regard to Iranian oil imports.

"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".

The foreign minister further stated that while previous US Presidents have also displayed "disrespectful attitudes" towards Iran, they have eventually changed their stance, and said the Trump administration will have to do the same. US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo had said these countries have shown significant reduction in oil purchase from Iran.

The State Department said it was carving exemptions from its sanctions on Iran's economy for the development of Chabahar along with an attached railway project and Iranian petroleum shipments to Afghanistan.

The first phase of the strategically-located project was inaugurated in December previous year.

The US government re-imposed the sanctions after withdrawing in May from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which is more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

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The sanctions, however, threatened India's ability to obtain financing for the development of Chabahar, which could potentially open the way for millions of dollars of trade for land-locked Afghanistan and end its dependence on Pakistan's port of Karachi.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.

India has warm relations with Iran and has joined China and European powers in saying it was not obligated to comply with the unilateral US sanctions, although it has sought to appease Washington by curbing some of its Iranian oil imports. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", said the US State Department Spokesperson.

The spokesperson cited the strategy to say it "underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India".

Asserting that the US' "desperation" was highlighted in their move to include closed companies in the sanctions, Zarif said that the anti-Iran move was mostly criticised and opposed by the worldwide community and that only a handful of nations like Israel and others supported the move.

India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran. "Where Chabahar is critical to India's access to and assistance towards ensuring a stable Afghanistan, India's energy needs require a basket of energy suppliers", Pande said.

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