Mint Quick Edit | Does India’s Chabahar deal risk US sanctions?

For India, the Chabahar port opens up access to Central Asia and beyond without Pakistan in the way.
For India, the Chabahar port opens up access to Central Asia and beyond without Pakistan in the way.

Summary

  • The US took little time to bring up the “potential risk of sanctions” in the context of India’s Chabahar port deal with Iran. America’s own interests, though, may converge with ours if we broaden the context.

The Chabahar project finally seems to be making progress, with India signing a deal with Iranian authorities to operate the port for 10 years. Do Indian entities risk US sanctions? Asked as much, US state department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel replied, “Broadly, you’ve heard us say this in a number of instances, that any entity, anyone considering business deals with Iran, they need to be aware of the potential risk that they are opening themselves up to, and the potential risk of sanctions." 

The project’s development had got a US waiver in 2018 on the logic of Afghanistan benefiting from its trade enablement. For India, it opens up access to Central Asia and beyond without Pakistan in the way. Perhaps the US would rather have New Delhi bet on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, but as this route runs via Israel, its future is uncertain. 

If the US wants to uphold Indian trade interests as a counter to China’s designs in the region, which include the use of Pakistan’s Gwadar as a rival port, then India mustn’t be penalized for seeking a new link between Asia and Europe with Chabahar as a transit point. It’s in the free world’s interest that it gets the better of Gwadar.

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