US exempts Chabahar port-related activities from its sanctions

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 7, 2018

Afghanistan's imports of Iranian petroleum products were also being exempted from sanctions, the spokesperson added.

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", the spokesman said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Iran has plans to link the port by railway to Zahedan on the Pakistani border up to Mashhad in the northeast.

Sanctions targeting Iran's oil, banking and transport sectors came into effect on Monday.

Representatives of India, Afghanistan and Iran met a little more than two weeks ago in New Delhi, despite looming USA sanctions, to discuss operationalization of the port, which is seen as key to connect India and Afghanistan to Iran and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. It states that India has a major role in bringing peace and development in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump's "South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India", a State Department spokesperson said.

And the USA, the official said, seeks to "build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime's destabilising policies in the region and beyond".

The Persian version said the USA "will regret this unwise move" and emphasised that the sanctions were aimed at "separating people from each other and from the establishment".

India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran.

"Combined with the importance, this administration places on developing good ties with India, there was a compelling geopolitical case to be made for a waiver", he said.

Trump's decision has been opposed by European powers as well as other nations including India, which has largely warm relations with Iran.

India had lobbied the United States privately and publicly for an exemption for the port citing the role it plays in Afghanistan's reconstruction. "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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