US Warns India of Sanctions Risk Over Chabahar Port Deal with Iran

The United States State Department has issued a cautionary note to India following its recent 10-year deal with Iran to manage operations at the Chabahar port, hinting at the possibility of sanctions. In a press briefing held in Washington, State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel emphasized the ongoing sanctions on Iran, stressing that any entity engaging in business deals with Iran must be mindful of the associated risks, including the potential for sanctions enforcement by the US.

This warning comes in the wake of the agreement between India and Iran to develop and oversee operations at the strategically important Chabahar port, aimed at bolstering trade routes in west and central Asia. Under the terms of the contract, India’s Ports Global Limited (IPGL) will invest $370 million in enhancing the port’s infrastructure and equipment over the next decade. The signing ceremony, attended by Iran’s urban development minister Mehrdad Bazrpash and India’s ports and shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal, marked a significant milestone in bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

The Chabahar port project, initially proposed in 2016 to facilitate trade and transit in the region, encountered delays despite initial agreements. However, both countries reaffirmed their commitment to expedite the project during discussions in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The port’s strategic location on the Indian Ocean, close to the Pakistan border, underscores its potential as a key transit point for regional commerce.

While expressing optimism about the long-term prospects of the Chabahar port agreement, officials from both Iran and India stressed the importance of mutual trust and collaboration in realizing the project’s objectives. Despite the specter of US sanctions looming over such ventures, the commitment to enhancing regional connectivity and economic cooperation remains unwavering for both parties involved.

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