Iran opens $1-billion extension at port rival to Gwadar

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

The project was officially opened through a ceremony, attended by 60 foreign guests from 17 countries at the port located by the Oman Sea, IRNA news agency reported.

The Chabahar port is important to India as it will bolster a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries that would bypass rival Pakistan. But New Delhi has proceeded cautiously at a time when the U.S. administration has taken an aggressive new approach toward Tehran.

India and Iran signed an agreement in May 2016 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tehran under which India is to equip and operate two berths in the first phase of the Chabahar port with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease. India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.

Referring to the Indian shipment in October, it said, "The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts, which led to the transit of first tranche of 110,000 tonnes of wheat from India to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port".

According to the Indian foreign ministry, minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration of the first phase of the Chabahar port project, known as the Shahid Beheshti port. "We welcome other ports in the region, we welcome Gwadar's development".


A month ago, India sent the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port, which Swaraj called a gift from Indians to Afghans.

The extension, which includes five new ports, more than triples the capacity of the strategic port, bringing it to 8.5 million tons of cargo annually, from the previous 2.5 million.

The US, however, has held off criticism of India's involvement in developing Chabahar, hoping greater Indian investment in Afghanistan will help to stabilise the country.

Moreover, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has made an unannounced visit to Tehran while returning from Russian Federation ahead of the inauguration of the port with an aim to boost the ties between India and Iran, news agency ANI reported.

A railway route is also under construction from Chabahar to Zahedan (centre city of Sistan-Baluchestan Province) to boost the capacity of the new strategic transit route.

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