USA exempts Chabahar port-related activities from its sanctions

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

"After extensive consideration, the Secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the Port for Afghanistan", a state department spokesperson said in a statement to the Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

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.

India had lobbied the United States privately and publicly for an exemption for the port citing the role it plays in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

The US has exempted three Iranian nuclear sites from sanctions, but warned that they will be under strict scrutiny, the State Department said. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", said the US State Department Spokesperson.

In addition, Afghanistan will be allowed to continue importing Iranian petroleum products, the spokesman said.

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.

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The Chabahar Port is 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.

India, Smith argued, "made a convincing case" that its principal interest in the port was to develop alternative infrastructure links to Afghanistan that bypass Pakistan, which also serves the USA national security interests.

Asserting that the US' "desperation" was highlighted in their move to include closed companies in the sanctions, Zarif said that the anti-Iran move was mostly criticised and opposed by the worldwide community and that only a handful of nations like Israel and others supported the move.

"Both these decisions demonstrate that the Trump administration values the deep strategic relationship with India".

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.

"We have weathered hard times in the face of 40 years of American hostility relying exclusively on our own resources, and today we and our partners across the globe will ensure that our people are least affected by this indiscriminate assault", he said.

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