India's 'Masterstroke' Port Agreement with Iran

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hold hands in a show of solidarity after their trilateral meeting and signing agreements, at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 23, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

“A masterstroke.”

“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.


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