With US asking India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions and India distancing itself from the strategically located Chabahar port New Delhi will stand to lose “special privileges”. Iran had been critical of India’s stand on the port project. India’s participation in the project had worked as a check mechanism on the Chinese expansion in the region especially with Gwadar being developed by Chinese in Pakistan. It is unfortunate that Indian investment promises for expansion of Chabahar port and its connectivity projects have not been accomplished so far. The emerging challenges and opportunities in the global diplomacy and its impact on bilateral ties India should go a step further. The Iranian oil deal is the best for India in terms of cost and value and payment terms compared to dealing with west or Arabian nations. Iran has been a reliable energy partner for India and that Iran always follows a “rationale pricing” of oil which ensures the interest of both consumers and suppliers. Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18). If India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others for the 10 per cent of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports which mean higher Current Account Deficit. The Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. Besides setting up of a regional dialogue forum in the Persian Gulf and West Asia to resolve regional crises also works as an anti-dot to growing Islamic terrorism which India has been fighting in Kashmir since over seven decades. Relations with Iran can work as a force to counter the growing menace.
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