India Partners With Iran to Block China: What You Need to Know

(ANTIMEDIA)  In mid-February, Iran and India signed nine agreements during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India, establishing a deeper cooperative relationship between the two countries.

“We had detailed discussions on ways to further deepen cooperation between India and Iran,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted at the time.

“It is a matter of great pleasure for us that an Iranian President has traveled to India after a gap of 10 years,” Modi also said, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

One of the most notable areas of agreement was a lease between Iran’s Port and Maritime Organization and India Ports Global Limited, which allows the Indian company to run a part of Chabahar Port’s multi-purpose and container terminal for 18 months. Also noteworthy is a joint statement released by the two countries that described the Chabahar Port, currently being developed with funding from India ($500 million invested so far), as a “golden gateway” that will help in reaching out to Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia.

The two countries also said they would step up cooperation in combating extremism, terrorism, and drug trafficking in Afghanistan. More importantly, India and Iran are also making efforts to improve “energy security and regional connectivity” to reach Afghanistan by developing the Chabahar Port and other road and rail routes.

“We both will work for restoring peace, stability, prosperity and a pluralistic system in Afghanistan,” Modi said.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, India badly wants the port developed, believing it will help India gain access to war-torn Afghanistan, where India is involved in rebuilding efforts.”

India also allegedly needs a route for its companies to take into energy-rich Central Asia,” which is problematic, according to Nikkei Asian Review, because “Pakistan, India’s hostile neighbor to the northwest, does not allow overland access.

This development is interesting, to say the least, mainly because China is reportedly planning to build bases in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Chabahar port in eastern Iran is about 90 kilometers west of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which is being developed by China. Gwadar is the epicenter of a massive Chinese infrastructure program in Pakistan and is further expected to be the site of Pakistan’s Chinese military base despite denials that this is the case.

To date, China has invested at least $54 billion in infrastructure projects known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under China’s boastful “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that Pakistan, Iran, and China are in the process of developing a “trilateral nexus” of their own as the three countries look to deepen economic ties collectively.

According to DW, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in October of last year that the U.S. would not block “legitimate” business activities with Iran by India or any other ally, stating there was “no contradiction” with U.S.-Iran sanctions and the proposed port development deal in Chabahar.

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