Iran on Friday strongly advocated faster implementation of the Chabahar port project as well as India’s use of the facility to send various shipments, saying the key transit hub would benefit both countries.
Iranian Ambassador Iraj Elahi also called for India to resume importing crude oil from Iran, while citing that New Delhi had not succumbed to pressure from Western powers not to continue sourcing petroleum products from Russia after the Ukraine crisis.
India halted sourcing of crude oil from Iran after the US failed to proceed with its waiver of sanctions on India and several other countries.
“We believe that India is and has been strong and powerful to withstand pressure from the West… India is a rising power. India has a strong economy. Thus, India could easily resist the pressure from the US and the West,” the ambassador told a group of journalists.
Citing India’s resistance to pressure not to buy oil from Russia, Elahi hoped that New Delhi would soon start importing oil from Iran, given that such a move would affect the Indian economy, Indian people and Indian people Oil companies would benefit.
Regarding the Chabahar port project, he called for speedy implementation while emphasizing its strategic importance.
“We should look at the port of Chabahar not only from an economic point of view, but as a strategic partnership. Because of this importance, the speed of cooperation, progress and promotion in Chabahar should be faster than it is now,” he said.
“It is important for both India and Iran. It will be to our advantage,” he added.
Located in Sistan-Balochistan province on Iran’s energy-rich southern coast, the Port of Chabahar is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties.
The envoy said Iran believes the Indian government is positive about it.
“Of course there are shortcomings on both sides. We understand the Government of India’s willingness towards Chabahar. We believe that Chabahar is not just an economic problem,” he said.
“Chabahar is important for India. It is also important for Iran. But Iran has various ports in all parts of the Persian Gulf. We can use different ports for transit, import and export,” he said, implying that the port is vital to Indian interests.
“Chabahar is an oceanic port. It is near the Indian Ocean and closest to the route to Afghanistan,” he said.
Citing financial constraints Iran is facing due to Western economic sanctions, the ambassador said if Tehran had money, it might not have asked any country to come to Chabahar.
Describing India as a seafaring nation, Elahi said Iran expects India to send supplies through Chabahar.
“We are under sanctions. The Chabahar is not connected to Iranian networks. Because if we had money and no problems, we might not (then) have asked a country to come to Chabahar.
“We were under sanctions and needed money. We need cooperation, political support and we even need some experiments,” he said.
Elahi said the project is making progress.
“We don’t blame any country. Sanctions are not easy,” he said.
The envoy also noted that the Port of Chabahar is part of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
The INSTC is a 7,200 km multimodal transport project for freight transport between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
On Afghanistan, he said Iran and India also have similar concerns about the country, citing threats such as drug and arms trafficking.
He said countries in the region should use negotiations and pressure to force the Taliban to establish a comprehensive and multi-ethnic government in Kabul.