The US will apply sanctions on India if it continues to import oil from Iran after 2 May but New Delhi is unlikely to attract any punitive action for developing the Chabahar Port since it is primarily meant for assisting the people of Afghanistan, informed sources said on Wednesday.
India has invested hugely in the Chabahar Port as it provides New Delhi a critical transport link to land-locked Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. India decided to develop the strategic port since Islamabad has continuously denied permission to New Delhi to send goods to Afghanistan through the Pakistani territory.
Sources said India has impressed upon Washington time and again to keep the Chabahar Port out of the sanctions’ regime as any attempt to derail the project would ultimately hurt the people of Afghanistan. India has already started using the port for sending consignments of wheat to Afghanistan.
“The US fully understands the strategic importance of the Chabahar Port for reaching out to the people of Afghanistan…we are confident that India will not face any sanctions for developing the port,’’ sources added.
Last year, India and Iran had signed a pact to operate the Shahid Beheshti port, which is part of phase 1 of Chabahar. According to the agreement, India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL) has taken over the interim operations at Chabahar for 18 months.
A waiver for India from sanctions on investments in Chabahar has been part of the arrangement between India and the US since 2012.
Last year, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, reached between his country and other major world powers in 2015, and decided to re-impose sanctions on the Persian country.
But New Delhi was assured of a waiver from sanctions on its investments in Chabahar, given that Washington has been looking at India to help stabilise Afghanistan economically.