1. Delaram-Zaranj Highway
  2. Why Iran allowed Indian Investment?
  3. What’s India’s Problem?
  4. 16th NAM summit

Earlier we saw TAPI Pipeline issue, involving India-Afghanistan. (click Me if you didn’t). Here comes a new topic on India-Afghanistan (+Iran).

  • Afghanistan is a land-locked country. Most of its international trade is done through Pakistani sea-ports.
  • Therefore, India wished to connect to Afghanistan via an alternative route (through Iran).
  • So, In 2003 a trilateral agreement was signed among India, Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Under this agreement
    • Iran was to build a highway from Chabahar (a Port City of Iran) upto Afghanistan border.
    • India was to build a road connecting Delaram (border city of Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Capital of Nimruz province of Afghanistan)
Map showing the cities

India wanted to develop port @Chabahar (Iran) to do trading with Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

Delaram-Zaranj Highway

  • Delaram–Zaranj Highway, also known as Route 606.
  • Length about 200km
  • It connects Delaram (border city of Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Capital of Nimruz province of Afghanistan).
  • India totally financed this project. (about 600 crore rupees).
  • Border Roads Organization (BRO) of India, has constructed this highway.
  • Construction started in 2005, and in 2009 the road was opened for public use.
  • During the construction of this highway,Taliban killed about 130 workers, including 4 Indians from BRO.

So far, all the roadway construction is finished.

India wished to access both Afghanistan and other central Asian nations (like Turkmenistan), through this Chabahar port, But the Chabahar port is not yet fully developed to handle the huge cargo to and from India.

All these years, India was requesting Iran to allow them to do some port Development on this port.

Why Iran allowed Indian Investment in Chabahar Port?

Chabahar Port (Iran)

Port city of Chabahar (Iran)

  • In the early 2012, US put sanction against Iran Oil export, i.e. if any country imports crude oil from Iran, then that country’s bank (through which payments are made to Iran) will not be allowed to do transections in USA.
  • Because of this sanction, most of the nations stopped importing oil from Iran, except some big ones like India and China, but India too felt the heat of US diplomatic pressure and agreed to cut down oil imports from Iran.

Majority of Iran’s nation income comes from Oil export, so, they’re also feeling the heat. They want money, so, Iranian Government has now allowed India do invest upto $100 million in the Chabahar Port Development project.

What’s India’s Problem?

Well, now Indian Government fears that doing any investment in Iran= USA will be annoyed. So, India wants two things

  1. Afghanistan must make a commitment that it will do trading through this Iranian port. (otherwise the whole project will be economically unviable). Because there is a good chance, Afghanistan may not do any trading at all, with pressure from US and Pakistan.
  2. Afghanistan should sign a triparitate MoU with Iran and India, make it look like Afghanistan badly wants this project for the Development of its own economy and we (Indians) are just helping in rebuilding the Afghanistan.

But Afghanistan has changed the tone now, they’re not saying anything about the project (may be under secret US pressure.) They’re not keen on signing any such agreement or MoU or statement.

In short, India’s problem is how to calibrate the political signal it sends out at a time when the West is focused on making economic sanctions work effectively against Iran, especially when Afghanistan too has been reluctant given the issues involved.

Mohan talking with Karzai

Mohan talking with Karzai

16th NAM summit

  • 16th NAM summit will be held in Iran, during August 30-31, 2012.
  • Our Prime minister is going to visit this summit and will try to negotiate with the Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan to sign up some new MoU document which will iron out all the problems related to delaram highway and Chabahar port construction.

For more articles on [diplomacy], visit mrunal.org/Diplomacy.