US sanctions on Iran have no bearing on India’s Chabahar port project, says Centre

During the Question Hour, Pandey sought to know from the government if US sanctions on Iran had any bearing on India’s project at the Chabahar port, and claimed that the Iranian government is “publicly saying that our Chabahar port project has been miserably delayed” due to sanctions imposed by the US”.

The BSP member also claimed he is "aware" that China is trying to work on the project by taking advantage of US sanctions on Iran as it did "with the rail link", and asked the government if it is working on a "solution".
The BSP member also claimed he is "aware" that China is trying to work on the project by taking advantage of US sanctions on Iran as it did "with the rail link", and asked the government if it is working on a "solution".

The US sanctions on Iran have not affected India’s Chabahar port project, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Lok Sabha on Friday.

Replying to a question from BSP member Ritesh Pandey, the minister also clarified that US sanctions are “not relevant” to India’s Chabahar port project in Iran “at all”.

During the Question Hour, Pandey sought to know from the government if US sanctions on Iran had any bearing on India’s project at the Chabahar port, and claimed that the Iranian government is “publicly saying that our Chabahar port project has been miserably delayed” due to sanctions imposed by the US.

The BSP member also claimed he is “aware” that China is trying to work on the project by taking advantage of US sanctions on Iran as it did “with the rail link”, and asked the government if it is working on a “solution”.

“I would like to inform the member that (his) assertion is completely inaccurate. This agreement was signed in 2016. We took possession of the terminal in 2018. We have already supplied six cranes. The terminal is fully functional,” Jaishankar said.

“The US sanctions are not relevant to this project at all,” he said in his reply.

In a supplementary question, the BSP member sought to know from the government if India has signed “any backdoor agreement” to continue using the Chabahar port to provide help to central Asian countries and Afghanistan after Taliban took over the control of the Afghanistan government.

“All our agreements on the Chabahar port operations are limited to Iran. Originally, there was a trilateral agreement but that was the basis to set it up. In terms of port operations, we are not required to have any agreement with the government of Afghanistan. And, I assure you that the port is functioning and functioning back,” the external affairs minister said in his reply.

In a written reply to the question on the port, the minister noted that during the visit of the prime minister to Iran in May 2016, a trilateral agreement to establish the International Transport and Transit Corridor (Chabahar Agreement) was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan.

India is participating in the development of the first phase of the Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chabahar Port, in cooperation with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he pointed out.

“The Indian company, India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), through its wholly owned subsidiary, India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ), took over the operations of the Chabahar Port w.e.f. 24.12.2018. Since then, it has handled 160 vessels, 14,420 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) and 3.2 million tons of bulk and general cargo,” Jaishankar said.

The Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chabahar Port, has handled shipments and trans-shipments from various countries, including Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine, Oman, Romania, Bangladesh, Australia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan and the UAE, he said.

The minister said India has committed a total grant assistance of USD 85 million and a credit facility of USD 150 million for development of the Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chabahar Port.

“As part of our commitment towards infrastructure development of Shahid Beheshti Terminal, Chabahar Port, India has supplied six mobile harbour cranes (two 140 tonnes and four 100 tonnes capacity) and other equipment worth USD 25 million,” Jaishankar said.

The Chabahar Port has provided much needed sea-access to the landlocked

Afghanistan and it has also emerged as a commercial transit hub for the region, he said.

It is a more economical and stable route for landlocked countries of the region to reach India and the global market, Jaishankar said, noting that recently, it facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

India utilised the Chabahar port to ship 75,000 MT of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in 2020, he said.

Till date, a total of 1,10,000 tonnes of wheat and 2,000 tonnes of pulses have been trans-shipped from India to Afghanistan, Jaishankar said.

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