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In Detail: Chabahar Port & Its Strategic Importance

Iran has asked India to Join the Charbahar-Zahedan railway link project. Iran has asked for India’s help. Iran has requested the heavy railway line construction machinery from India. But what is its strategic importance? Ans Why Iran Is Suddenly Asking For India’s Help? We will discuss these in this article.

Chabahar Port And Its Strategic Importance

Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port. In 2016 India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600-meter long container handling facility at the port. India is investing $ 8 billion in the Charbahar project. So why is Charbahar so important for India?

Chabahar’s Location

Chabahar is located in the South-Eastern part of Iran. Strategically it’s very important. It is located just above the strait of Hormuz which extends up to the Gulf of Oman.

The Strait of Hormuz lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea via the Gulf Of Oman and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points. On the north coast lies Iran and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Musandam, an exclave of Oman. 

Controlling Oil Trade Through Chabahar

Tankers containing one-third of the global oil supply pass through the Strait of Hormuz. 20% of global crude oil production passes through it. On average 14 oil tankers pass through it every day, containing 17 million barrels. Being a choke point, one who controls the Strait of Hormuz also controls the oil trade through it.

Thus Chabahar is strategically very important for India as it can be used as a naval base in case of a war. China is developing Gwadar port for the exact same reason. Both China and India intend to cut the supply of each other’s oil with the naval blockade in case of a war.

China is developing Gwader port which is very close to the Strait of Hormuz. Chinese naval presence in Gwader has been reported many times. Along with the naval base at Djibouti, Gwader is an important element of China’s string of pearls strategy which intends to encircle India in case of a war.

The Chabahar port in Iran is an important component of India’s necklace of diamonds strategy which intends to counter China’s string of pearls.

Trade Through Chabahar

For the past 75 years, our useless neighbor Pakistan has stopped transit trade through its territory. One should note that Pakistan cannot export anything except terrorists and thus it’s quite natural for Pakistan to get jealous of its neighbor’s economic prosperity.

Hence Chabahar port provides India with a great opportunity to bypass this useless terrorist factory and trade with the central Asian countries. The central Asian market brings massive opportunities for Indian goods.

Indian goods can reach Afganisthan through Iran’s chabahar port. India also intends to develop a massive railway project which will connect major cities in Afghanistan and Iran with Chabahar port.

In May 2016, India signed a series of twelve memoranda of understanding which centered upon the Port of Chabahar including the trilateral transit agreement signed by India, Iran, and Afghanistan which allows Indian goods to reach Afghanistan through Iran. It links ports on the western coast of India to the Chabahar port and covers the road and rail links between Chabahar and the Afghan border.

Charbahar port also plays a crucial role in India’s plan of North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC), which will connect Moscow and st. Petersburg directly with Mumbai. As of now, India has very limited bilateral trade with Russia, which is roughly $ 7.5 billion. NSTC India plans to increase this trade to $ 30 billion by 2025. Strong economic ties would make India-Russia relations even stronger.

Thus Chabahar is very important for India both Strategically and economically. With this port, India gets one step closer to the $ 10 trillion Economy target as well as the Global superpower dream.

Recent developments

Recently we have heard a lot of propaganda fake news that India is no longer part of the Chabahar port project. But the reality is that India is still part of this project and is currently exporting articles to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

Hurdles In Chabahar Project

Under the Donald Trump administration, India faced a lot of pressure to discontinue Charbahar. Heavy sanctions were imposed on Iran which prevented India to export heavy equipment to Iran for railway construction. That resulted in delays in the Charbahar-Zahedan Railway Link project. A few months ago Iran started this project alone and decided not to wait for India to join this project.

Although Iran never officially announced that they have broken ties with Indian companies regarding the rail link project, they did start the construction of the railway project without India. But now in November 2020, Iran is asking for India’s help.

Iran’s Request For Equipment

According to a senior Iranian diplomat, Iran’s port and the maritime organization recently requested India for cranes, tracks, switches, and signaling equipment along with locomotives. Iran is facing huge difficulties in procuring this equipment directly due to U.S. Imposed sanctions.

Iran has also asked India to activate a $150 million line of credit which India offered during Iranian President Rouhani’s visit in 2018 to pay for the purchases.

Why Iran Is Suddenly Asking For India’s Help?

So suddenly why is Iran asking for India’s help in the Chabahar project? Well, there are multiple reasons behind it. The coming two months is going to be very difficult for Iran since Donald Trump is no longer accountable to the people. Before leaving Whitehouse he will try to inflict maximum damage. He might impose some more sanctions on Iran as a goodbye gift.

After Trump, the American policies is expected to change as Joe Biden would probably ease some sanctions and is likely to renegotiate Iran nuclear deal

Conclusion

Thus Chabahar is very important for India both Strategically and economically. With this port, India gets one step closer to the $ 10 trillion Economy target as well as the Global superpower dream.

Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant Preparing to be an officer Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream. I am a Defense analyst and enthusiast

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