“A big deal.”
That’s what Manu Balachandran is calling India PM Narendra Modi’s long-brewing pact with Iran, and after reading his writeup you might just agree:
On May 22, the Indian prime minister flew down to Tehran and the next day signed 12 agreements, including a deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar port. India will spend $500 million on the project, with a plan to invest an additional $16 billion in the Chabahar free trade zone.
But Chabahar—located about 1,800 kilometres south of Tehran—is more than just a port with an adjoining free trade zone.
“With our joint investments in Chabahar, we can connect India through a reliable route to Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said in press conference. “The agreement today is not only an economic document: It’s also a political and a regional one.”
On the drawing board since 2003, the Chabahar port is essentially being developed to facilitate trade between India and Iran. But the port will also provide India a conduit into Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.
Did you get all that? A deal 13 years in the making slipped right into place once the sanctions were lifted from Iran. So now India is going to be a bigger player in resource-rich Central Asia, and Tehran is going to get a cut of the action — providing the Mullahs with more cash to buy weapons from United Nations veto powers Russia and China.
Oh, but those sanctions are going to “snap back” — snap right back, I tell ya — if Tehran violates the nuke deal.
John Kerry and Barack Obama told me so.