United States warns ports against welcoming Iranian ships, following new sanctions

Gladys Abbott
November 9, 2018

President Donald Trump in May pulled out of an global agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, in which Iran curtailed its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

The United States will exempt from sanctions the development of Chabahar along with an attached railway project and Iranian petroleum shipments into Afghanistan, the State Department said.

With output overall rising, supply is ample despite the Iran sanctions now in place, prompting rumblings within the Middle East dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that renewed supply cuts may be needed next year to prevent a glut.

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that eight countries - India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey - were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil as they showed "significant reduction" in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country.

The exemption for Chabahar is linked to the port's importance for both India and Afghanistan, and likewise the importance of India and Afghanistan to USA foreign policy aims.

A convinced U.S. administration told India Today, "The President's South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India".

Chabahar and INSTC are important strategic projects for India and Afghanistan.

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Since Monday, the United States has aimed to end all of Iran's sales of oil, its crucial export, in a bid to curtail the influence of the Shiite cleric-led state.

In October-November 2017, India successfully despatched an inaugural consignment of around 15,000 tons of wheat from the Indian port of Kandla in Gujarat to Afghanistan via Chabahar, in line with its commitment to provide 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan on a grant basis.

India, Smith argued, "made a convincing case" that its principal interest in the port was to develop alternative infrastructure links to Afghanistan that bypass Pakistan, which also serves the United States national security interests.

The exemption for Chabahar comes as good news for India and Afghanistan, but undercuts the Trump administration's portrayal of the sanctions as the "toughest ever". "That number will fall farther", Pompeo said.

"The Iranian regime has a choice".

The two countries have been trading oil and other products, by paying and receiving Korean won through the Iranian central bank's accounts at two South Korean banks.

Commenting on this data, "Once again, the USA has shown that when it is economic to do so, it can increase production at a greater pace than Saudi Arabia".

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