The development of Chabahar Port in southeast Iran is certainly going to be part and parcel of the implementation of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multi-model route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe, said the director of India’s National Maritime Organization (NMF).
It will allow Iran, India and the Central Asian republics, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, to develop in terms of both their northern movement as well as their southern movement, Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan told Iran Daily on the sidelines of his meeting in the Indian capital of New Delhi with a press delegation comprising journalists from the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states.
Established on March 7, 1997, IORA is a 21-member intergovernmental organization which seeks to expand regional economic cooperation and strengthen mutually beneficial collaboration through a consensus-based approach. The Indian Ocean Rim defines a distinctive area in international politics consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. Iran is a member state.
A strategic analyst and adviser, Chauhan stressed that the port’s speedy development would help Iran and India broaden the reach of their activities in the northern area of both countries and, in addition, would provide them with greater east-west access.
“I cannot tell you how important Chabahar [Port] is. The sooner the port’s development is completed, the better it will be for both Iran and India as well as the entire region of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.”
India requests that Iran do its best to achieve greater progress in the development of the port as rapidly as possible, he said.
“A right decision and move made by the two countries was the movement of containers, as a trial run, in August this year and April of 2014 from Mumbai, a densely-populated city on India’s west coast, to Bandar Abbas in the southern Iranian province of Hormuzgan and, therefrom, across to, first, the Iranian capital of Tehran and, next, Amirabad Port in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran and Baku in one case, and the central Iranian province of Isfahan in the other.
“This was the right path to tread. We need to be able to build upon this and encounter and overcome the difficulties involved in the process of achieving our goals. If everything works in tandem, I think we would be able to offer viable connectivity, as role models, to the whole region. This would create a win-win situation which would benefit both sides.”
Shifting to trade ties, Chauhan said everybody knows that India needs to import oil from Iran, adding that although during the sanctions era India’s oil imports from Iran dropped due to the difficulties involved in the purchasing process, following the lifting of the sanctions, India’s crude purchases from Iran immediately skyrocketed and reached the pre-sanctions level.
Vice Admiral Chauhan listed the main oil exporters to India as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela.
“The US has made it difficult for India to purchase crude from Iran,” he added. “However, we need them to know that they are putting us in an extremely awkward position.”
Based in New Delhi, NMF was established in 2005 as the nation’s first maritime think-tank for conducting independent research on ‘matters maritime’. It was inaugurated on February 19, 2005.