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NEW DELHI: India is trying to make Chabahar Port in Iran operational by 2019, the government said in a statement on Friday, despite a threat of renewed US sanctions against Tehran.

The Indian-backed Chabahar port complex in Iran is being developed as part of a new transportation corridor for land-locked Afghanistan that could potentially open the way for millions of dollars in trade and cut its dependence on Pakistan.

The port would offer easy accessibility to CIS countries, Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said in the statement.

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal and penalise financial institutions for doing business with Tehran is clouding Chabahar’s viability.

Japan may stop buying Iranian oil

Japanese oil refiners may have to stop loading Iranian crude oil from Oct 1 if Japan’s government does not secure an exemption from US sanctions to allow imports to continue, the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) said on Friday.

If payments to Iran cannot continue after a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov 4, it is possible that Japanese buyers of Iranian oil will have to make their last order for Iranian oil in August for September-loading cargoes, said Takashi Tsukioka, who is also chairman of Japan’s second-biggest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan Co.

That is because the payment for October-loading cargoes would be made in November, he told a monthly news conference on Friday.

Tsukioka said that Japan, which would have to get a reprieve from the US by Nov 4 to continue imports, would study the responses of other countries.

“I think it’s worth paying attention to what actions that some countries like China and India that raised (Iranian oil) imports during the previous US sanctions would take,” he told reporters.

PAJ’s Senior Managing Director Shinya Okuda added that the Japanese trade ministry has been gathering information on details of the proposed US sanctions.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018