Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister who visits Iran after 15 years
India and Iran on 23 May 2016 signed 12 memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and agreements in various areas including building and operating the Chabahar port by India.
The MoUs and agreements were inked after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Modi is on a two day (from 22 May – 23 May 2016) visit to Iran.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Iran in last 15 years. On his arrival to the country he was received by Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia at the Mehrabad International Airport.
The 12 Agreements/MOUs signed include
• India-Iran Cultural Exchange Programme: The objective is to extend the CEP for the period 2016-2019 covering the areas of culture and art; radio, TV, mass media and cinema; and relevant general and financial terms.
• MoU on Policy Dialogue between Governments and Interaction between Think Tanks: The MoU was signed between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Iran. It seeks to create a Joint Secretary/Director General policy dialogue as well as encouraging new institutional mechanisms between think tanks on both sides. There is also a provision for a conference on contemporary issues of regional and global significance.
• MoU for training of diplomats and exchange of eminent speakers: It was inked between Foreign Service Institute (MEA) and the School of International Relations (Iran’s MoFA) under which the two bodies will enhance cooperation.
• Implementation Protocol (IP) on Cooperation in the Fields of Science and Technology: it should be maintained between Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of S&T and Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. The IP fleshes out the specific cooperation between the two sides pursuant to the 2003 MoU and covers areas like exchange of experiences, seminars, conferences etc.
• MoU for cooperation between ICCR and ICRO: The MoU signed between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Islamic Culture and Relations Organizations of the IR Iran provides for institutional mechanisms for cooperation between ICCR and ICRO and lays down the modalities for the cooperation.
• Bilateral contract on Chabahar Port for port development and operations between IPGPL [India Ports Global Private Limited] and Arya Banader of Iran: The contract envisages development and operation for 10 years of two terminals and 5 berths with cargo handling [multipurpose and general] capacities.
• MoU between EXIM Bank and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization [PMO] on current specific terms for the Chabahar Port project: This MoU is intended for the purpose of credit of 150 US dollar million for Chabahar port.
• Confirmation Statement between EXIM Bank and Central Bank of Iran: This confirms the availability of credit up to 3000 crore rupees for the import of steel rails and implementation of Chabahar port.
• MoU to establish a framework of cooperation between ECGC and EGFI: it was inked between ECGC [Export Credit Guarantee Corporation] Limited of India and the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) to in support and encourage foreign trade and foreign investment between India and Iran and, where appropriate, the supply of goods and services from their respective countries as part of a project to a third country.
• MoU to jointly explore the possibility of manufacturing aluminium metal: the MoU was signed between National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO). The objective is for the two parties to jointly explore the possibility of manufacturing aluminium metal by setting up of a smelter on joint venture basis in Iran and/or entering into tolling arrangements with smelters in Iran or any other form of business collaboration including sale of alumina etc.
• MoU to enable IRCON to provide requisite services for the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan railway line: It was inked between IRCON and Construction, Development of Transport and Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) of Iran. Under its IRCON will provide requisite services for the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan railway line which forms part of transit and transportation corridor in trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan. Services to be provided by IRCON include all superstructure work and financing the project (around 1.6 billion US dollar).
• MoU for cooperation between the National Archives of India and the National Library and Archives Organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran: This MoU aims at facilitation of exchange of information and knowledge in the field of archival matters through exchange of manuals, guidelines, rules, publications and other special literature on archival topics.
The agreements signed between two countries open a new chapter in the history of India-Iran bilateral relationship.
Out of these 12 agreements, the most important is signing of agreement to develop strategic Chabahar port and related infrastructure. It is an important milestone with potential strategic advantage to India.
It is strategically important because it will enable India to bypass Pakistan and open up a route to land-locked Afghanistan with which India has close security ties and economic interests.
Besides, both the countries also agreed to consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime among others.