United States exempts India from sanctions at Chabahar port in Iran

Pompeo Allows Sanctions Exception for Chabahar Port

The State Department said it was carving exemptions from its sanctions on Iran's economy for the development of Chabahar along with an attached railway project and Iranian petroleum shipments to Afghanistan.

The first phase of the strategically-located project was inaugurated in December previous year.

Early on Monday the USA imposed its "toughest ever" sanctions on Iran that it had earlier lifted after the signing of the nuclear agreement in July, 2015 between Tehran and Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the US.

Iran has plans to link the port by railway to Zahedan on the Pakistani border up to Mashhad in the northeast. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", said the US State Department Spokesperson.

The Chabahar Port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.

Earlier, South Korean Ambassador to Tehran Ryu Jeong-hyun said that despite many European companies leaving Iran under the pressure of United States sanctions, South Korean firms understand the significance of the Iranian market and have chosen to stay.

Sisi made the statement a day after a new batch of USA anti-Iranian sanctions, targeting the Islamic Republic's oil trade as well as shipping and banking, came into force.

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.

"Trump administration made the right move by exempting India for the development of the Chabahar port", Jeff Smith of the Heritage Foundation told PTI.

India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran.

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. It understands India's national security interests.

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.

Rick Rossow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: "Chabahar's role to transport key logistics to Afghanistan will continue to grow over time".

In the US, industry data were said to show that nationwide crude inventories rose last week, expanding by 7.83 million barrels.

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