Iran inaugurates $1bn Chabahar Port extension
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a $1bn extension of its southeastern Chabahar port which Tehran hopes will help the country become a key transit route to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The project in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province was inaugurated at a ceremony attended by 60 foreign dignitaries from 17 countries, including Indian Minister of State for Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan, at the port located by the Sea of Oman.
The inauguration of the port project comes some 15 years after India and Iran first formally agreed to develop the Chabahar port in January 2003, during the visit by then Iranian president Mohammed Khatami to New Delhi.
The project, due to its strategic location, linking the region to Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), will revive the far southeaster areas of Iran in terms of development and employment. The capacity of the port is 8.5 million tonnes.
According to IRNA news agency, Rouhani said: “We are happy that the first wheat shipment for Afghanistan has been sent to the country’s people via the Iranian port. The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea, and air.”
The port’s inauguration comes more than a month after the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was sent via Chabahar — the first shipment after the trilateral agreement to develop the port as a transport and transit corridor between India, Iran, and Afghanistan was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Iranian and Afghan Presidents Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani, respectively, in May 2016.
According to The Economic Times, Tehran has offered New Delhi a proposal to manage phase one of the Chabahar Port. The offer involves management rights for two years and such rights could be renewed by another decade. Japan is also partnering India for expansion of the Chabahar Port complex – one of India’s primary connectivity initiatives for the region that juxtaposes of sorts with China’s BRI.