Thursday January 18, 2018
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EU adopts legislative framework to lift sanctions against Iran

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NewsGram Staff Writer

Brussels: The European Union (EU) adopted the legislative framework for lifting all of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran.

The announcement was made in a joint statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Noting that October 18 is Adoption Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) related to the Iranian nuclear program, the statement said that the lifting of sanctions will take effect on Implementation Day, simultaneously with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-verified implementation of agreed nuclear measures by Iran.

On July 14, Iran reached the JCPOA with P5+1, namely the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany, over its controversial nuclear program after more than 18 months of marathon talks.

The so-called “Adoption Day”, 90 days for the United Nations Security Council endorsed the Iranian deal. It means Iran and the P5+1 will start implementing the obligations under the Iranian nuclear deal.

“We have respected the timetable set out in the JCPOA, which demonstrates our collective will to stick to its provisions,” said the statement.”Iran will now start the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments with the objective of full and effective completion. The IAEA will make the necessary preparations for the monitoring and verification of these steps,” it said.

The Joint Commission foreseen under the JCPOA will now convene for its first meeting at the level of Political Directors on October 19 in Vienna, in order to further advance preparations for implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to the statement.

US President Barack Obama earlier on Sunday ordered his administration to take steps to lift sanctions on Iran by implementing the Iranian nuclear deal reached in July.

Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali-Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that the exact time for implementing the measures by Iran relating to JCPOA has not been decided so far, and it would be determined by president Hassan Rouhani.

According to the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world major countries reached on July 14 in the Austrian capital of Vienna, Iran would improve the transparency of its nuclear plan, downsize its capacity for uranium enrichment and do changes in the structure of its heavy water reactor in exchange for international and Western sanctions relief.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Indian Wheat Arrives Afghanistan via Chabahar Port, making History

India sends its first shipment to Afghanistan via Chabahar port, thus opening new trade route for Middle East also, bypassing the problems created by Pakistan

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Indian what reaches Afghanistan via Chabahar Port
FILE - Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

Afghanistan has received an inaugural consignment of wheat from India through an Iranian port, opening a new trade and transit route for the landlocked nation that bypasses neighboring Pakistan.

The strategic sea route, officials say, will help improve trade and transit connectivity between Kabul and New Delhi.

It will also potentially give India access to Central Asian markets through Afghanistan, because rival Pakistan does not allow Indian goods to be transported through its territory .

The shipment of almost 15,000 tons of wheat dispatched from India’s western port of Kandla on October 29 reached the Iranian port of Chabahar on November 1. It was then loaded on trucks and brought by road to the Afghan province of Nimroz, which borders Iran.

Speaking at a special ceremony to receive the historic consignment Saturday in the border town of Zaranj, India’s ambassador to Kabul, Manpreet Vohra, said the shipment has demonstrated the viability of the new route. He added that India, Afghanistan and Iran agreed to operationalize the Chabahar port only a year-and-a-half ago.

“The ease and the speed with which this project is already working is evident from the fact that as we are receiving the first trucks of wheat here in Zaranj, the second ship from Kandla has already docked in Chabahar,” Vohra announced.

He said there will be seven shipments between now and February and a total of 110,000 tons of wheat will come to Afghanistan through Chabahar. Vohra added the shipments are part of a promised 1.1 million tons of wheat as India’s “gift” to Afghanistan out of which 700,000 has already been sent to the country.

India is investing $500 million in Chabahar port to build new terminals, cargo berths and connecting roads, as well as rail lines.

The Indian shipment arrived in Afghanistan days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on a visit to New Delhi, allayed concerns the Trump administration’s tough stand on Iran could pose a fresh stumbling block to India’s plans to develop the strategic Iranian port as a regional transit hub.

The Indian ambassador also took a swipe at Pakistan, though he did not name the rival country.

“The logic of finding easy connectivity, assured connectivity for Afghanistan is also because you have not had the benefit despite being a landlocked country of having easy access to international markets. We all know that a particular neighbor of yours to the east has often placed restrictions on your transit rights,” Vohra noted.

The shortest and most cost effective land routes between India and Afghanistan lie through Pakistan.

But due to long-running bilateral territorial disputes between India and Pakistan, Afghanistan and India are not allowed to do two-way trade through Pakistani territory. Kabul, however, is allowed to send only a limited amount of perishable goods through Pakistani territory to India.

“We are confident that with the cooperation, particularly of the government of Iran, this route now from Chabahar to Afghanistan will not see any arbitrary closure of gates, any unilateral decisions to stop your imports and exports, and this will provide you guaranteed access to the sea,” vowed Vohra.

Pakistan also allows Afghanistan to use its southern port of Karachi for transit and trade activities. However, Afghan officials and traders are increasingly complaining that authorities in Pakistan routinely indulge in unannounced trade restrictions and frequent closure of border crossings, which has undermined trade activities.

“With the opening of Chabahar Port, Afghanistan will no longer be dependent on Karachi Port,” provincial governor Mohammad Samiullah said while addressing the gathering. The economic activity, he said, will create job opportunities and bring billions of dollars in revenue to Afghanistan, Iran and India.

Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan have also plunged to new lows in recent years over mutual allegations of sponsoring terrorism against each other’s soils.

In its bid to enhance economic connectivity with Afghanistan, India also opened an air freight corridor in June this year to provide greater access for Afghan goods to the Indian market.

Pakistani officials, however, have dismissed suggestions the direct trade connectivity between India and Afghanistan is a matter of concern for Islamabad.

“It is our consistent position that Afghanistan as a landlocked country has a right of transit access through any neighboring country according to its needs,” said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a nearly 2,600 kilometer largely porous border. However, Islamabad has lately begun construction of a fence and tightened monitoring of movements at regular border crossings between the two countries, saying terrorist attacks in Pakistan are being plotted on the Afghan side of the border. VOA