Iran opens $1 bn extension at gateway port to Afghanistan

First phase of strategic Chabahar port, party developed by India, inaugurated by Iranian President

"Chabahar will turn into the biggest port of the country in the future and would be of considerable significance both politically and economically".

The Chabahar Port project was ratified in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Iran, the first visit by an Indian PM since 2012.

The statement said, "The completion of the internal procedures on the ratification process by Iran is expected to lead to full and early operationalisation of the Transit and Trade arrangement between the three countries though the Chabahar port..."

Pakistan has banned India from transporting goods through its territory to Afghanistan. On the inauguration of Chabahar port India said this construction will contribute to regional trade and provide Afghanistan with global market alternative access.

The port's inauguration comes more than a month after the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was sent via Chabahar.

The Indian government has committed $500 million to Chabahar, with the aim of joining an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries, according to Indian sources. Akbar was speaking at the 7th Meeting of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which was formed to promote peace in Afghanistan.

Analysts say the Chabahar port could challenge Pakistan's Gwadar port, some 80 kilometers from Chabahar, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

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The Chabahar port's development was accelerated after Tehran signed the nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Washington and five other major powers in 2015 to put curbs on its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions.

In the first phase of the port of Shahid Beheshti, 15 million cubic meters of dredging, 203 hectares of new land, and 1,650 breakwaters have been constructed, and its basin depth is 16.5 square meters. The shipment is to be taken by trucks to Afghanistan from Chabahar. Iran was represented by its Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi and Afghanistan by its Trade and Commerce Minister Humayoon Rasaw.

Once the project is complete, Chabahar will be linked with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which now stretches from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Gulf to Russia, Eurasia and Europe.

According to Managing Director of Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Rastad, with the opening of the port's Phase 1, close to 800 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs have been generated.

Iranian state TV said the inauguration was attended by dignitaries from India, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.

While India has been fully devoted to getting its ambitious Chabahar project, Pakistan has left no stone unturned up the game with its investment and alliance with China on Gwadar Port (China Pak Economic Corridor).

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