EghtesadOnline: A ship carrying 72,000 tons of bulk corn from Brazil arrived and unloaded in Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port on Thursday.
According to the director of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization, this was the largest vessel to ever dock at this southern Iranian strategic port, IRNA reported on Thursday.
"Upon the completion of the unloading phase, the cargo will be sent to local destinations," he said.
Abbas Azarpaykan, deputy for Technical and Engineering Department of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization, announced that the country’s highest marine control tower will be constructed at Chabahar Port in the near future, Financial Tribune reported.
The first phase of the strategic Iranian port developed in cooperation with India was inaugurated by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Dec. 3.
Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port town and consists of two separate ports: Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. The opening of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port (out of five phases defined for the project), which has tripled its capacity to 8.5 million tons (equal to that of all the northern ports of the country), will allow the docking of super-large container ships (between 100,000 DWT and 120,000 DWT) and increase India’s connectivity with Afghanistan.
It was in 2003 that India first proposed developing the Chabahar Port seen as a gateway for the country to access the landlocked markets of Afghanistan and Central Asia, as New Delhi’s tense ties led to Pakistan blocking overland trade.
Chabahar is located less than 100 nautical miles from the Chinese-built port of Gwadar in Pakistan.
In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a pact, which entailed the establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multimodal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.
The United States recently said it would exempt Iran's Indian-backed port of Chabahar from new sanctions on Tehran, recognizing the value of the project to Afghanistan.
The United States will exempt from sanctions the development of Chabahar, along with an attached railroad project and Iranian petroleum shipments into Afghanistan, the State Department said as reported by AFP.
"This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief," a State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying.
India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
India considers Chabahar a key conduit both to send supplies to Afghanistan and to step up trade with Central Asia as well as Africa.
“We have shipped about 110,000 tons of wheat and 2,000 tons of pulses from India to Afghanistan through this port [Chabahar]. We might also need to pursue the development of a rail line from Chabahar to Zahedan,” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was recently quoted as saying.
Iran plans to link the port by railroad to Zahedan on the Pakistani border up to Mashhad in the northeast.
On the back of a rail link that stretches to Iran’s northwestern border, Chabahar will facilitate the transport of goods from India to the landlocked countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as Afghanistan.
India has agreed to build a 500-km railroad from Chabahar to Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, close to the Afghan border. India’s state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan.
After connecting Chabahar to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. Hence, when the Afghan cargo arrives in Zahedan, it can be transported by a 1,380-km railroad to Chabahar and then shipped to India.