India's strategic Chabahar Port dream shattering

India's strategic Chabahar Port dream shattering

ISLAMABAD - Iran Chabahar Port developed by India 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, opens a transit route to Iran and Afghanistan that will also give India access to markets in Central Asia. New Delhi has committed $500 million to the strategically important port that bypasses Pakistan.

Officials said Delhi would wait to see the fallout of US sanctions on the project. Before making a midterm or a long-term assessment, India would also keep an eye on how the other five countries, who were party to the pact, deal with the situation.

Officials said they were in the process of firming up the arrangement for picking the Indian company that will manage, operate and maintain the container and multipurpose terminals for 10 years.

The process is already behind schedule because the three Indian firms shortlisted in the technical bid stayed away from financial bidding.

“We are now revisiting the tender guidelines after which a fresh tender will be issued” said a government official who didn’t want to be named. As per the agreement, Tehran will lease operational control of the port to India for 18 months. India will equip and operate two terminals in first phase on a 10-year lease.

Officials, however, warned that Trump administration could prevent foreign countries from accessing the US market. Before the 2015 deal, Washington used to sanction foreign firms that deal with the Iran Central Bank.

The sanctions could impede completion of the Chabahar port , strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney has said. A day after he dumped the deal, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday a new round of sanctions was coming. The deal lifted sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran limiting its nuclear programme.