U.S. exempts India from sanctions at Chabahar port in Iran

India gets US waiver for development of strategic Chabahar Port in Iran

U.S. exempts Chabahar port-related activities from its sanctions

The decision by the Trump administration, which a day earlier imposed the toughest ever sanctions on Iran and is very restrictive in giving exemptions, is a seen as a recognition by Washington of India's major role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of vast strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.

Activities related to the development of the Chabahar port in Iran will be exempt from U.S sanctions that kicked in on Monday, following the 180 day cool-off period after the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or "Iran Deal") in May this year.

The United States has exempted India from imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar Port in Iran, along with the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan, a State Department spokesperson said.

The sanctions, however, threatened India's ability to obtain financing for the development of Chabahar, which could potentially open the way for millions of dollars of trade for land-locked Afghanistan and end its dependence on Pakistan's port of Karachi.

The announcement made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin focussed primarily on the economic pressure built to bring Iranian oil imports to zero and "granted" exemptions to eight countries. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", the spokesman said.

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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.

India has warm relations with Iran and has joined China and European powers in saying it was not obligated to comply with the unilateral USA sanctions, although it has sought to appease Washington by curbing some of its Iranian oil imports.

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

The sanctions reimposed on Iran's oil exports - its main revenue source - and financial sector were triggered by US President Donald Trump's May 8 decision to abandon the 2015 worldwide deal created to block Tehran's development of nuclear weapons.

The exemptions were linked to the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, to which India has been a key contributor, a role that was recognised and reinforced by president Donald Trump in the South Asia strategy he announced in August 2017, earmarking an expanded role for New Delhi.

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