United States exempts India from sanctions at Chabahar port in Iran

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The US government re-imposed the sanctions after withdrawing in May from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which is more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Europe refuses to allow the USA to be the trade policeman of the world", Le Maire told FT, adding that the European Union needs to affirm its independence in the rift between the European Union and the United States over the sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. spokesperson said that President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy was focused on economic growth for Afghanistan and a "close partnernship" with India and the U.S seeks to maintain a close relationship with both countries as they pursue a "policy of maximum pressure" against Iran.

One member of the cartel, which has been cutting production involuntarily due to USA sanctions, appeared to welcome the prospect of other nations doing the same. "We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero", said the Secretary of State.

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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".

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.

India had lobbied the USA privately and publicly for an exemption for the port citing the role it plays in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

The Chabahar Port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.

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The port provides key supply route to landlocked Afghanistan.

"Since its inauguration past year, we have shipped about 110 thousand metric tons of much-needed wheat and 2,000 metric tons of pulses from India to Afghanistan through this port", Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said at a conference in New Delhi Delhi last week.

Zahedan is also in Iran but closer to the Afghanistan border.

The sanctions, however, threatened India's ability to obtain financing for the development of Chabahar, which could potentially open the way for millions of dollars of trade for land-locked Afghanistan and end its dependence on Pakistan's port of Karachi. If the sanctions are meant to "convince the [Iranian] regime to abandon its current revolutionary course", as Pompeo said on Monday, such exceptions surely undercut that effort.

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The United States has nonetheless granted eight waivers to places including China, India and Japan, which will not immediately be punished for continuing to buy Iranian oil. Meanwhile the Trump administration's South Asia policy all but necessitates a pass for Afghanistan.

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