Crucial Iran visit
Reports indicate that the payment will be made in Euros. India is a massive market for Iranian crude oil. One of the major projects that could be discussed during the visit is the development of the Chabahar port. Earlier this year, India had approved a credit line of $150 million towards the project in an effort to outmanoeuvre Pakistan and improve its access to Afghanistan, where it has critical interests.
These developments have come in the face of the historic Iran-US nuclear deal, which ended Tehran’s isolation from the global market. The deal has brought significant strategic autonomy as far as India’s foreign policy is concerned. This is because India has vital trade and other important strategic links with both Iran and the USA.
With the conclusion of this deal, India can now resume its purchase of oil and natural gas from Iran and even seek to make investments in lucrative oil fields. For example, India has been trying to secure rights to develop the Farzad-B gas field in Iran, an offshore block that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India had discovered in 2008.
Over the past few months, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari have all visited India. New Delhi is believed to have earmarked $20 billion (Rs 1.33 lakh crore) for investments in the oil and gas as well as petrochemicals and fertilisers sectors in Iran. Modi will go Teheran with a package of economic proposals which should be attractive to Iranian leaders.
The issue of combating terror in the context of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan will also figure on the agenda for discussions. India should be fully alert to the latest foreign policy initiatives of new Iranian regime under which Tehran is also trying to take along Pakistan, China, and Russia, to look after its national interests.
Iran wants to expand its economy now and it seeks their support. In this context, Prime Minister Modi must make all efforts to persuade the Iranian leaders of India’s proposals that could open up vast opportunities for the expansion of energy and connectivity in the region. India can ill-afford to ignore Iran.