Iran on Friday strongly pitched for faster implementation of the Chabahar port project as well as use of the facility by India to send various shipments saying the key transit hub will benefit both the countries. Iranian Ambassador Iraj Elahi also sought resumption of import of crude oil by India from Iran while citing New Delhi not succumbing under pressure by the Western powers to not continue procurement of petroleum products from Russia following the Ukraine crisis.
India stopped procurement of crude oil from Iran after the US did not continue with sanction waivers to India and several other countries.
“We believe that India is and was strong and powerful to stand against the pressure of the West… India is a rising power. India has a powerful economy. So India could easily resist pressure from the US and the West,” the ambassador told a group of journalists.
Citing India’s resistance against pressure to not buy oil from Russia, Elahi hoped that New Delhi would soon start importing oil from Iran as such a move would benefit the Indian economy, Indian people and the Indian oil firms concerned.
On the Chabahar port project, he called for its speedy implementation while highlighting its strategic importance.
“We should view Chabahar port not just from an economic perspective but it should be considered as a strategic partnership. Because of this importance, the speed of cooperation, the speed of progress and the speed of promotion in Chabahar should be faster than what is now,” he said.
“It is important for India as well as Iran. It will be for our benefit,” he added.
Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties.
The envoy said Iran believes that the Indian government has a positive approach towards it.
“Of course there are shortcomings from both sides. We understand the willingness of the Indian government towards Chabahar. We believe that Chabahar is not just an economic issue,” he said.
“For India, Chabahar is important. For Iran also, it is important. But Iran has different ports in all parts of the Persian Gulf. We can use different ports for transit and import and export,” he said, suggesting that the port is crucial for Indian interests.
“Chabahar is an oceanic port. It is close to the Indian Ocean and closest to the route to Afghanistan,” he said.
Citing financial constraints being faced by Iran due to Western economic sanctions, the ambassador said if Tehran had money, then it may not have required any country to come to Chabahar.
Describing India as a maritime nation, Elahi said Iran expected India to send shipments through Chabahar.
“We are under sanctions. The Chabahar is not connected to Iranian networks. Because, if we had money and did not have any problem, (then) we may not have required any country to come to Chabahar.
“We were under sanctions and we needed money. We need cooperation, political support and we need even some experiments,” he said.
Elahi said progress on the project is going on.
“We are not blaming any country. Sanctions are not easy,” he said.
The envoy also noted that the Chabahar port is part of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
The INSTC is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
On Afghanistan, he said Iran and India also have similar concerns about the country and especially cited threats such as trafficking of drugs and weapons.
He said countries in the region should use negotiations and pressure to force the Taliban to put in place a comprehensive and multi-ethnic government in Kabul.