Iran has launched the first phase of a strategic southeastern port which it expects to open a multi-modal trade corridor connecting India to Central Asia.
The first phase of Shahid Beheshti International Port in Chabahar, Sistan-Baluchestan Province, was inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony also attended by officials and dignitaries from 17 countries.
President Rouhani said during the ceremony that the inauguration of the project marked a historic day for Iran – particularly for the people of Chabahar.
He emphasized that the project was specifically important given that it connected the trade corridors that pass through Iran to the ocean.
“This port is also significant from the political point of view given that it connects Iran with its eastern and northern neighbors and at a later stage to European states,” Rouhani said.
The project to develop Shahid Beheshti Port started in 2007 through an investment that officials previously said already amounted to $1 billion.
The annual cargo tonnage of Shahid Beheshti Port – Iran’s only oceanic port – has now almost tripled to reach as high as 8.5 million tonnes.
It can also accommodate 100,000-tonne ships – what officials say can help promote the country’s international trade activities.
The overall development project is planned in four phases and is expected to bring the port’s total annual cargo capacity to 82 million tonnes.
Tehran plans to use Chabahar for transhipment to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to give Indian goods, heading toward Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar.
Chabahar provides India with an easier land-sea route to Afghanistan. The Indian government has committed $500 million to Chabahar, with an aim to join an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries.
Massive investment plans are already on the cards, with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering to build a sprawling artery of roads and railways which is estimated to cost $15 billion.
India has finalized a plan to build a 900km railroad from the Afghan province of Bamiyan to Chabahar Port. It has also already spent $100 million on building a 220km road in the Afghan province of Nimruz, which will be extended to Chabahar.
Once the development project is complete, Chabahar will be linked with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which currently stretches from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf to Russia, Eurasia and Europe.