Iran is looking to India to speed up the acquisition of heavy equipment such as cranes and expedite work on a railway link to the Afghan border to boost the economic viability of the Chabahar port, people familiar with the developments said.
India’s allocation of Rs 100 crore for the strategic port on the Gulf of Oman in south-eastern Iran in the budget for fiscal 2020-21 and greater clarity on the US waiver for Chabahar from sanctions imposed on Iran have heightened expectations in Tehran that work on the project will now pick up pace, said the people who declined to be named.
“There is a written assurance from the US that will make it easier for foreign banks to provide funds for the purchase of heavy equipment, including cranes and pneumatic lifts that are needed to unload ships at Chabahar,” said a person who didn’t want to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
In late 2018, the US had granted a waiver for Chabahar and the construction of a railway line from the port to the Afghan border from sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. However, banks had been reluctant to provide loans for buying heavy equipment worth some $85 million for the port because of the lack of a written assurance from the US, the people said.
This assurance was provided following the India-US 2+2 meeting of the defence and foreign ministers in Washington last December, the people added.
“The hope now is that the US assurance and the increased allocation for Chabahar in India’s budget will help drive the process for acquiring all the necessary equipment,” the person cited above said.