By Feridoun Fathi
In an exclusive interview with IRNA here, Commodore (retired) C. Uday Bhaskar said, “The strategic opportunities for India provided by lifting of the sanction on Iran go beyond the immediate availability of more oil at lower prices. The inexorable hydrocarbon energy trend line of the last century is the shift from solid (coal) to liquid (crude oil) and now to natural gas. One may aver that the geo-politics and geo-economics of the 21st century will be shaped by gas, in as much as the 20th was influenced by oil – and the 19th by coal.”
Referring to Iran’s huge gas reserves, Commodore Bhaskar said, “Iran has the world’s second largest natural gas reserves and, with appropriate introduction of technology in the exploration sector, it is likely that this estimate will be revised upwards. India has engaged in what may be best described as tactical negotiations with Tehran over gas supplies and this is an area that warrants the highest attention to scale up India’s energy supplies for the long term.”
Commodore Bhaskar, who is also Director of the Society for Policy Studies at New Delhi, called the post-sanction Iran as the center of attention of many Western nations and said, “The current development wherein most of the US mandated sanctions have been lifted will benefit Iran in a visible manner and billions of US dollars that have been frozen will be returned to Tehran. Many nations that were earlier forbidden to trade with Iran are now eager to engage with the country and India can also expect to have a more robust trade and economic engagement with Tehran.”
“Iran is a major energy supplier for India and it is expected that Tehran will gradually increase its oil production by 500,000 barrels per day over the next six months.” He added.
On the impact of lifting of sanction on Iran on India’s ties with Pakistan and Afghanistan, commodore Bhaskar said, ‘The other area that is of considerable strategic importance is the Chabahar port in Iran which is located about 70 km west of the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Since long ago, India has been looking at this port as an alternate link to Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia that will by-pass Pakistan.”
“Delhi has also invested in the Delaram-Zaranj road link. This road in Afghanistan’s Delaram district connects to northern Iran and a high-density road-rail connectivity has been envisaged from Chabahar.” He said.
“The gradual return of Iran to the regional strategic and security fold will also have a non-linear but considerable impact on how India deals with Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Commodore Bhaskar added.
On the importance of the Chabahar Port for India, the seasoned analyst of the world affairs said, “The Chabahar Port has considerable strategic potential for India to enhance its maritime foot-print in the Arabian Sea and beyond towards the Hormuz. Much will depend on the perspicacity that Iran and India can afford to bear in this domain.”