India gets United States waiver for Iran's Chabahar Port

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

The top U.S. diplomat has granted an exception to certain USA sanctions that will allow the India-led development of a port in Iran as part of a new transportation corridor created to boost Afghanistan's economy, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We have made a decision to issue temporary allotments to a handful of countries responsible to the specific circumstances and to ensure a well supplied oil market".

The U.S. spokesperson said that President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy was focused on economic growth for Afghanistan and a "close partnernship" with India and the U.S seeks to maintain a close relationship with both countries as they pursue a "policy of maximum pressure" against Iran. US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo had said these countries have shown significant reduction in oil purchase from Iran.

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 enormous strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, the State Department clarified that Chabahar and an Afghanistan specific railway project (under INSTC) would be kept out of the sanctions for the objective of "development" of Afghanistan.

On November 5, the Trump administration had imposed the "toughest-ever" sanctions on Iran's banking, energy and shipping industries, in a move aimed at altering the "behaviour" of the country's regime.

This waiver will bring some measure of relief to India, which had been discussing a sanctions exemption for Chabahar having signed an agreement with Iran and Afghanistan in May 2016 for the port's development. "The U.S. will be granting these exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey". It is also 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.

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.

Since South Korea's currency has low convertibility, . the official said, the negotiating team assured the US that this method of transaction will not allow USA dollars or other foreign currencies to flow into Iran.

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