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United States exempts India-backed port in Iran from sanctions
07 November 2018, 08:13 | Hattie Nash
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
The sanctions reimposed on Iran's oil exports - its main revenue source - and financial sector were triggered by US President Donald Trump's May 8 decision to abandon the 2015 worldwide deal created to block Tehran's development of nuclear weapons.
The US announced on Tuesday it has provided for an "exception" from certain sanctions - an exemption, in other words - to the Iranian port of Chabahar that India has developed and used for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
When asked on the fate of Chabahar Port after the United States reimposed all its sanctions on Iran, the spokesperson said, "This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan".
In October-November 2017, India successfully despatched an inaugural consignment of around 15,000 tons of wheat from the Indian port of Kandla in Gujarat to Afghanistan via Chabahar, in line with its commitment to provide 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan on a grant basis.
Zahedan is also in Iran but closer to the Afghanistan border. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", the spokesman said.
India has invested $500 million (approximately Rs 3,600 crore at current exchange rate) in the Chabahar project, which will connect the country with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. It states that India has a major role in bringing peace and development in Afghanistan.
The spokesperson cited the strategy to say it "underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India".
The sanctions exception granted to the Chabahar project aims to further USA ties with Afghanistan and India "as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime's destabilizing policies in the region and beyond", the State Department spokesman said.
The Persian version said the U.S. "will regret this unwise move" and emphasised that the sanctions were aimed at "separating people from each other and from the establishment".
New Delhi has poured $2 billion into development in Afghanistan since the 2001 USA -led overthrow of the Taliban government.
"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.
The comments come after Washington slapped what it describes as "the toughest sanctions ever" on Iran after US President Donald Trump's controversial decision in May to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.
Chabahar and INSTC are important strategic projects for India and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said the US has, after extensive consideration, provided an exception under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act. "So this waiver is squarely aligned with the U.S. interests", he said.
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