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Kenny Grant
November 8, 2018

The US announced on Tuesday it has provided for an "exception" from certain sanctions - an exemption, in other words - to the Iranian port of Chabahar that India has developed and used for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

On Monday, the United States imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on Tehran aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour".

Iran late a year ago inaugurated the port on the Indian Ocean, which is being built largely by India and is expected to provide a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia and Africa.

President Donald Trump's "South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan's economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India", a State Department spokesman said on November 6.

The sanctions, however, threatened India's ability to obtain financing for the development of Chabahar, which could potentially open the way for millions of dollars of trade for land-locked Afghanistan and end its dependence on Pakistan's port of Karachi. "These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan's growth and humanitarian relief", the spokesman said.

The top U.S. diplomat has granted an exception to certain USA sanctions that will allow the India-led development of a port in Iran as part of a new transportation corridor created to boost Afghanistan's economy, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.

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"The US will be granting these exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey". Reacting to the Trump administration's decision, USA experts said it was a "right move".

India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran.

"Combined with the importance, this administration places on developing good ties with India, there was a compelling geopolitical case to be made for a waiver", he said.

Since South Korea's currency has low convertibility, . the official said, the negotiating team assured the US that this method of transaction will not allow USA dollars or other foreign currencies to flow into Iran.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said the US has, after extensive consideration, provided an exception under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act.

Rick Rossow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: "Chabahar's role to transport key logistics to Afghanistan will continue to grow over time".

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