Iran Inaugurates New Extension to its Main Port of Strategic Importance

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurates Chabahar Port developed by India

India, Iran, and Afghanistan moved closer to each other - keeping Pakistan at an arm's length - with the inauguration of the first phase of Iran's first oceanic port Chabahar, on Sunday by the country's President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani inaugurated the expansion, carried out with an investment of $1bn including $235mn from India, which has more than tripled the port's capacity to 8.5 million tonnes a year, state television reported.

India and Iran are the signatories to the port development project, the second pact was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan.

27 delegates from India, Afghanistan and other Asian countries attended the inaugural ceremony of the port. The cargo was sent from Kandla port in Gujarat in October this year. India's commitment for the port is $500 million. On the inauguration of Chabahar port India said this construction will contribute to regional trade and provide Afghanistan with global market alternative access.

The inauguration comes at a time when Pakistan is blocking access between India and Afghanistan.

Asked how China views the launch of the project, considering that China is investing heavily in Gwadar as part of the Dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment on it directly. The Iranian port is only about 80 km from Pakistan's Gwadar port.




Chabahar Port is an interconnector between South-East Asia, Central Asia and Afghanistan.

In the first phase of the port of Shahid Beheshti, 15 million cubic meters of dredging, 203 hectares of new land, and 1,650 breakwaters have been constructed, and its basin depth is 16.5 square meters.

Once the project is complete, Chabahar will be linked with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which now stretches from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Gulf to Russia, Eurasia and Europe.

A few months after the nuclear deal with Iran went into effect in January 2016 and sanctions were lifted, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country where he agreed to open a $500m line of credit to develop the port - almost half of what Iran is planning to invest. The new port and its related connections will bring an end to this problem. "It was also made a decision to convene an expert-level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the joint statement said.

The port will increase the capacity of loading and unloading of ships as well as the employment rate in the province, according to an official with the Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organisation.

Just a day before the historic inauguration, EAM Sushma Swaraj made a surprise stopover at Iran on her way back from Russian Federation and met with her counterpart Javed Zarif.

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