Pompeo Allows Sanctions Exception for Iran Port Development

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

"After extensive consideration, the Secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the Port for Afghanistan", a state department spokesperson said in a statement to the Hindustan Times on Tuesday. Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, said Washington aimed to bring Iranian oil exports to zero, but 180-day exemptions were granted to eight importers: China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey.

The U.S. State Department says it is exempting Iran's big port project in Chabahar from sanctions in recognition of its importance to landlocked Afghanistan.

Iran late a year ago inaugurated the port on the Indian Ocean, which is being built largely by India and is expected to provide a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia and Africa.

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"We have made a decision to issue temporary allotments to a handful of countries responsible to the specific circumstances and to ensure a well supplied oil market".

Early on Monday the USA imposed its "toughest ever" sanctions on Iran that it had earlier lifted after the signing of the nuclear agreement in July, 2015 between Tehran and Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the US.

In a major development, India has managed to keep Iran's Chabahar Port project outside the purview of the sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration on November 5. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", said the US State Department Spokesperson. "We seek to build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime's destabilizing policies in the region and beyond".

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New Delhi has poured $2 billion into development in Afghanistan since the 2001 US -led overthrow of the Taliban government. "Where Chabahar is critical to India's access to and assistance towards ensuring a stable Afghanistan, India's energy needs require a basket of energy suppliers", Pande said.

Asserting that the US' "desperation" was highlighted in their move to include closed companies in the sanctions, Zarif said that the anti-Iran move was mostly criticised and opposed by the worldwide community and that only a handful of nations like Israel and others supported the move.

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