.Is the India-Iran Chabahar port construction aimed at the Gwadar port?
[Global Times Roundup] During Indian Foreign Minister Swaraj’s first visit to Iran, the two countries reached agreements to speed up construction of the Chabahar Port into the fast lane. India plans to invest $20 billion in this project and draw on Iran’s Chabahar special economic zones for adequate land for the project.
The report says that Chabahar Port is located in the southeastern region of Iran bordering the Gulf of Oman. Iran hopes to build the port to the extent that it can be the transport hub for the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia. India’s relationship with Iran has always been very good. Despite the sanctions placed on Iran by the United States, India’s oil imports from Iran were never suspended and India remained Iran’s second largest oil customer. In 2003, the two countries reached an agreement to develop this port but due to sanctions progress has been slow. Now that Iran is sanction free, the two sides wish to accelerate the construction of the port. So far, India has already built a 220-km-long highway connecting the port with Afghanistan.
“Chabahar Port is India’s response to the close bond between Pakistan and China,” said an NDTV report. The distance between Pakistan’s Gwadar port from Iran’s Chabahar is only 72 km. India wants to use this port to be able to bypass Pakistan and open up a new route into Afghanistan and further strengthen economic and security cooperation with Afghanistan. Given the pace at which the $46 billion CPEC including energy and infrastructure agreements is moving along, Modi hopes to accelerate the construction of Chabahar Port as well as India’s cooperation with Iran and other Gulf countries. In February this year, the Indian government set up a company responsible for the port projects in Iran and provided $150 million credit. Chabahar Port is India’s first foreign port project in which they are directly involved both the development and construction. The annual throughput will reach up to 2.5 million tons.
However, Pakistan’s Forum Express reported that when the Secretary-General of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Keyhani visited Pakistan in October of last year, he stated that the Chabahar and Gwadar Port will be more cooperative rather than competitive and that Iran will not use Chabahar Port to stymie the Gwadar Port. (Chen Xiang)