In the latest visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to India, both nations inked 9 pacts after significant bilateral talks. The pacts included the vital clause of leasing out a part of Iranian Chabahar port to an Indian firm in addition to avoidance of double taxation, preventing tax evasion, simplifying visa rules for diplomats, extradition, health, agriculture etc. The Port known as the Golden gateway is being developed by Indian funding is vital to reach Afghanistan and other parts of Central Asia. Chabahar port thus offers India a multi-mode connectivity till Europe bypassing the blockade imposed by Pakistan. This will help India counter China’s growing influence in the region as the port is located just 140km from the Gwadar Port of Pakistan which is being developed by Beijing.
India and Iran have strong trade ties as India is the second largest buyer of Iranian Crude Oil after China. The bilateral trade between two nations had reached $12.89 billion in 2016-17.
India’s foreign office is faced with a huge challenge as the future of the Nuclear Pact between Iran and West lies is uncertain after decertification of the same by Trump administration. US pull-out from the deal will hamper Indian trade interests in Iran. Israel which is another dominant actor in the region and a close US ally is also against the deal.
The Syrian angle to the situation cannot be brushed aside as Iran is an ardent supporter of Assad regime, Houthi rebels and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. This has placed Iran at crossroads with the Sunni majority Arab nations in Gulf. The region is however vital for Indian energy security concerns and India has to thus form independent bilateral relations.