US experts hail move to exempt India from certain sanctions for Chabahar Port development in Iran

Washington, Nov 8: The US’ decision to exempt India from imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar Port in Iran, along with the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan, has been welcomed by prominent think tanks here as a “right call”. The decision taken on Tuesday by the Trump administration, which a day earlier imposed the toughest ever sanctions on Iran and is very restrictive in giving exemptions, is seen as a recognition by Washington of India’s major role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.
“This was the right call. India’s ability to not just continue its development assistance to Afghanistan but also to scale up, will be vastly enhanced by the development of the Chabahar port,” Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, said. Ayres, who had worked in the State Department in the Obama administration, said as Kabul and New Delhi seek ways to increase trade connectivity for Afghan exporters to the enormous Indian market, an overland and sea supply chain will be helpful as everything cannot be exported economically via air freight. “Increasing opportunities for economic activity in Afghanistan will be crucial for the country’s stability, and India is the most important economy in the region to provide that ballast,” she said.
According to Anish Goel, who was part of the White House’s National Security Team during the Obama regime, the exception for the Chabahar port is a reflection of the “competing priorities at play”.
“As much as the (US) administration wants to squeeze and isolate Iran, it also does not want to do anything to damage or restrict the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. The port, when finished, will be vital for shipping goods to Afgha-nistan,” he said. (Agencies)