Bharatiya Janta Party, General Secretary, Ram Madhav has said that Iran’s decision to go ahead with the remaining work on Chabahar port without India’s support should alert New Delhi.
Mr. Madhav in an article for a national newspaper The Indian Express said, “After Bangladesh’s decision last September to hand over the construction of its first submarine base near Cox’s Bazar to China, which sold two submarines to it in 2018, came the news of Iran going ahead with the remaining work on the Chabahar port without India’s support. Iran’s decision should alert India in the light of the ongoing debate in the Iranian parliament over a proposed sweeping economic and security partnership agreement with China,”
Adding that of particular concern to India could be the military cooperation embedded in the agreement between Iran and China that would facilitate “joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing”.
The New York Times which was the first to report the details of the 18-page agreement between the two countries reported that the agreement would facilitate China’s direct presence in Iran’s strategic sectors like banking, telecommunications, ports and railways. China would, in return, get highly-subsidised Iranian oil over the next 25 years.
“Two aspects of the proposed agreement call for greater attention from India. First, the decision to hand over two ports in the Gulf of Oman to China for development, one of them at Jask just 200 miles away from the Chabahar port. Second, the co-option of the Central Asian republics into this agreement. This comes as a direct challenge to not only India’s traditional ties with these republics but also to the US-led programme of C5+1 under which the US has established multilateral programmes with five Central Asian republics,” The BJP leader wrote.
Mr. Madhav said that India traditionally has strong ties with Iran that withstood several pressures from the West. This time, the challenge comes from the eastern neighbour, “Neighbourhood First” has been the sheet-anchor of India’s foreign policy at least since the inception of the SAARC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested heavily in the neighbourhood in the last six years to create strong diplomatic bonds. He has extensively used his soft power skills to generate enormous goodwill for India and himself. That popular goodwill remains a great advantage.”