Wednesday July 17, 2019
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India seeks enhanced economic ties with Iran

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New Delhi:  Iran being an important partner of India, according to Sushma Swaraj External Affairs Minister, called for improvement of commerce, infrastructure, trade and bilateral economic cooperation in energy on Monday.

Co-chairing the 18th session of the India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) here with Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia, Sushma Swaraj underlined the efforts underway to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in energy, infrastructure – including shipping, ports and railways — and trade and commerce, an official statement said.

“She stressed that connectivity afforded by Indian participation in Chahbahar port will facilitate linking Afghanistan and Central Asia with India,” the statement said.

“The Iranian side suggested the participation of India’s public and private sectors in the development of Chahbahar port and Chahbahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and in setting up industrial units in the FTZ.”

Sushma Swaraj emphasised the need for early completion of all necessary procedures for India’s participation in the Farzad-B gas field in Iran and pointed out India’s desire to participate in other oil and gas explorations in the west Asian nation as well.

“The two ministers reviewed the progress in trade and economic cooperation and a number of related matters, and discussed the possibilities in cooperation in railways, including by supply of rails, rolling stock, signalling and other works and India’s participation in Chahbahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway line,” the statement said.

The JCM was preceded by meetings of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade and Commerce (November 18-19), Joint Working Group on energy (December 26) and Joint Working Group on infrastructure (December 26).

Earlier on Monday, Taiebnia called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who warmly recalled his meeting with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Ufa earlier on the sidelines of the Brazil, Russia, India China, South Africa (BRICS) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits in Ufa, Russia, this year and reiterated the keen desire of India to expand its economic cooperation with Iran.(IANS)(image: mayatoday.com)

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US Hits Iran with New Sanctions; Petrochemicals Targeted

Washington is pressuring Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program

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US, Iran, Petrochemicals
FILE - A man walks past the Mahshahr petrochemical plant in Khuzestan province, southwest of Tehran, Iran. VOA

The United States on Friday imposed new sanctions on Iran targeting the country’s petrochemical industry, including its largest petrochemical holding group, over its financial support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Treasury Department said.

Washington is pressuring Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program and for waging proxy wars in other Middle Eastern countries. The new measures follow a round of sanctions imposed last month that targeted the Islamic Republic’s export revenues from industrial metals.

Tensions between the two countries worsened last month when the Trump administration ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack U.S. forces or interests.

The Pentagon has also accused the IRGC of being directly responsible for May 12 attacks off the United Arab Emirates coast that damaged two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker.

US, Iran, Petrochemicals
The United States on Friday imposed new sanctions on Iran targeting the country’s petrochemical industry. Pixabay

Friday’s sanctions target Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) for providing financial support for the economic arm of the IRGC, Iran’s elite military unit in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The U.S. Treasury also designated the holding group’s network of 39 subsidiary petrochemical companies and foreign-based sales agents. PGPIC and its subsidiaries hold 40% of Iran’s petrochemical production capacity and are responsible for 50% of Iran’s petrochemical exports, it said.

“By targeting this network we intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran’s petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The Treasury statement said Iran’s oil ministry last year awarded the IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbiya, the IRGC’s economic and engineering arm, 10 projects in oil and petrochemical industries worth $22 billion, four times the official budget of the IRGC.

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President Donald Trump last year pulled out of a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for easing some sanctions, saying it did not go far enough.

The Trump administration has since taken several unprecedented steps to squeeze Iran, such as demanding the world halt all imports of Iranian oil and designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, which Iran has cast as an American provocation.

U.S. law already punished U.S. persons who deal with the IRGC with up to 20 years in prison because of the group’s designation under the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, a different sanctions program. (VOA)