Months after starting the Chabahar rail project without India, Iran seeks help

  • Context: India is not a part of the Chabahar-Zahedan railway at present, but as Iran begins the second phase of the 628-km project, Tehran hopes New Delhi will help it procure equipment to run the rail line from the Chabahar port to the Afghan border that it has had difficulty in procuring them directly due to the U.S.-imposed sanctions.

Analysis

  • Delays due to sanctions have also taken a toll on the Indian interest in developing the Farzad-B gas field, where ONGC Videsh made a discovery in 2008.
  • New Delhi is also watching negotiations on a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement between China and Iran believed to be worth $400 billion, which could fund other parts of the Chabahar development, including a free trade zone along the Makran coast, and oil infrastructure projects.

Chabahar port and Delaram-Zaranj Highway Delaram-Zaranj Highway

  • Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country.
  • The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.

Delaram-Zaranj Highway

  • In 2003, a trilateral agreement was signed among India, Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Under this agreement,
  1. Iran was to build a highway from Chabahar (a Port City of Iran) upto Afghanistan border.
  2. India was to build a road about 200km in length connecting Delaram (border city of Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Capital of Nimruz province of Afghanistan)
  • Border Roads Organization (BRO) of India has constructed this highway.
  • Construction started in 2005, and in 2009 the road was opened for public use.

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