Iran, Afghanistan and India will soon sign an agreement on the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Gulf on Oman to link Afghanistan with India, said Shakib Mostaghni, spokesman for Afghan ministry of foreign affairs. (IRNA, 25 March)
The landlocked Afghanistan would need a major seaport to export its newly found huge mineral deposits. The mines, including some of the largest unexplored copper, iron and gold deposits in the world, were identified and mapped by U.S. Defense Department’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) in 2009-2011. They also include significant lithium and rare earth metals.
To use Chahbahar, Afghanistan needs to send the ores to railhead to be constructed in Herat for transshipment through Iranian railway system to Chabahar. The railway linking Iran to Herat is under construction by the Iranians, but its completion has been constantly delayed due to right-of-passage for property owners and other issues.
Chabahar, a deep-sea port on the Gulf of Oman in Iranian Baluchistan, is a short distance away for Gwadar Port on Pakistani side of Baluchistan on the Arabian Sea. Shipping mineral ores from central and eastern Afghanistan straight through Pakistan to Gwadar is a viable alternative. However, tense relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and security issues at their border regions make Chabahar an attractive route to bypass Pakistan altogether.
File photo: Port of Chabahar in Iranian Baluchistan on the Gulf of Oman (IRNA)