Even as the US imposed its toughest sanctions on Iran at the beginning of the week, but also exempted India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey to temporarily continue purchasing crude oil from the country, it is India that has received permission to continue its development of Iran’s Chabahar Port as part of a three-nation agreement from May 2016. Conveying the decision taken by the Trump Administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out that it was President Donald Trump’s commitment to development in Afghanistan, one of the three countries that signed the Transit and Transport Corridor agreement along with Iran and India that has resulted in this exemption being granted.
A spokesperson from the US State Department speaking on the matter of this exemption said, “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. 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. We seek to build on our close relationships with both the countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime’s destabilizing policies in the region and beyond.”
The US sees India as a vital ally in South Asia, mostly to provide a balance of power and an avenue of influence in the region against the economic might of China. A former US ally, Pakistan, has grown closer to China in recent years, and although India has traditionally been closer to Russia, a change in this dynamic is being welcomed and thoroughly developed by the US government.