US Sanctions on Iran will not Impact Chabahar Port, Trump Admin assures India ahead of 2+2 dialogue

The United States' sanctions on Iran will not impact India's development of Chabahar Port in the country, Washington reportedly informed New Delhi through diplomatic channels on October 12, ahead of the India-US 2+2 ministerial meeting that begins on Monday, October 26.

US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper are slated to visit New Delhi to meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on October 26-27. Their visit to the country days ahead of the US elections signals the importance that Washington attaches to Indo-US ties.

Earlier in October, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 18 major Iranian banks in one of the most extensive such moves against Tehran in months, that led to India reaching out to the US on concerns regarding the Chabahar port, reported The Indian Express. However, Washington assuaged India's concerns and assured that it would not impact the port's development.

The US Treasury department had on October 8 announced sanctions on major financial institutions in Iran along with a 45-day wind-down period for the country, that required all non-American persons to wind down activities and transactions with the Iranian financial sector. However, despite being extremely hawkish on Iran, US made an exception to India, which assumes significance for the Trump administration that steps into presidential elections on November 3.

The humanitarian assistance made by India through the Chabahar Port has been one of key elements of the country's Afghanistan strategy. As a form of humanitarian assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, India shipped a consignment of 75,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan on September 28. The consignment was shipped from Kandla port in Gujarat and reached Chabahar on September 30. Along with shipments of wheat, the Chabahar port also witnessed trans-shipment of 1,890 tonnes of sugar from India to Afghanistan on August 26.

Chabahar port, which has emerged as India's 'connecting point' to deliver humanitarian assistance to other countries during the pandemic, remains a symbol of the country's people-centric approach in diplomacy. India had also dispatched 20,000 litres of pesticide to Iran to help the country deal with locusts crisis that had also impacted Pakistan as well as India. The shipment of pesticide arrived in Chabahar port and was handed over to Iran on July 14.

In its assurance to India, the US administration said that the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran, by both US and non-Americans, has been permitted. Also, waivers granted by the US State Department and exceptions in US law which allow reconstruction and development of Afghanistan reportedly remain valid.