EghtesadOnline: The two-day trip of Indian foreign minister to Iran featured extensive discussions on bilateral ties, with an expert commenting on how the complementary nature of Iran-India relations is being adversely impacted by the US.
Nozar Shafiei, an expert on Indo-Iranian affairs, talked to IRNA about the various aspects of ties between the two Asian powerhouses, saying Iran and India are “natural allies” whose economic and cultural interactions ensure mutual benefits for the two sides.
Shafiei said India simply cannot afford to overlook Iran’s geopolitical significance.
“This has encouraged cooperation when it comes to the development of [Iran’s] Chabahar Port, construction of the 135-mile-long Route 606 and the improvement of transport connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
India is Iran's major trade partner and was among the key importers of Iranian crude oil before the United States reneged on the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions. The US, however, granted a waiver to India with regard to the Chabahar project, a $85 million lease agreement that gives operational control of Shahid Beheshti Port (phase one of Chabahar Port development in southeastern Iran) to India.
The International North-South Transport Corridor’s primary objective is to reduce costs and time in the transport of goods from India to Russia, Central Asia and the European Union.
Iran is a major factor in the completion of the alternative trade route and plays a key role in the development of Route 606, which helps India bypass the unsafe Pakistani routes.
Shafiei, also a university professor, noted that there are no serious disputes between Tehran and New Delhi, and various variables have acted as contributing factors in collaborations between the two countries.
However, he cautioned that the main factor impacting economically feasible projects is the US interference.
“India’s inclination toward western political thinking after the Cold War and their acceptance of the international order indicate that their foreign policy is susceptible to American influence, but at the same time it places them in a position to leverage the White House to stop exerting immense pressure on Indian cooperation with Iran,” he said.
In addition, Shafiei said India considers China its main rival, knowing well that the Chinese are also pursuing opportunities that arise from Iran’s untapped potential.
India and the United States are perfectly aware of the fact that their failure to establish economic ties with Iran in the short run would translate into Tehran’s alignment with Beijing.
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Iran to attend the 19th session of the Joint Iran-India Economic Commission concluded on Monday after meetings described by him as “fruitful” with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.