India- Iran Bilateral Relations

Historical Background

  • Since Prehistoric times, there have been culture similarities between Persia & India. Pre Independence, India and Iran were neighboring nations.
  • India and Iran has been neighbors till 1947, however independent India and Iran established diplomatic relations in 1950. Mohammad Mosaddegh (then Prime Minister of Iran 1952–53) admired Mahatma Gandhi. Many of their tactics were pretty much akin

After independence 1947-1953

  • Following the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953, Iran was ruled under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
  • During much of the Cold War period, relations between the Republic of India and the former Imperial State of Iran suffered due to different political interests primarily due to non-aligned tactic of India towards the US that nurtured a strong military links with the Soviet Union while Iran enjoyed close ties with the United States.
  • Shah’s Iran had the heavy influence of the West and it became a member of various Western-sponsored regional organizations like the Baghdad Pact, while India was more towards the Soviet Union and the NAM.
  • Throughout the 80s, Iran and Iraq were in a state of war and Iraq was then a close friend of India.

After Cold War

  • Indian PM Narasimha Rao visited Iran in 1993 and since then, relations have been improving.
  • Iran and India closely cooperated in supporting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban in the 1990s.
  • In 2003, President Mohammad Khatami of Iran was the Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day.
  • Iran has emerged as India’s most viable transit option for trade with Central Asia and Russia. India, Russia and Iran signed an agreement in 2000 for sending Indian Cargo to Russia via Iran through a ‘North-South Corridor’.
  • But in 2006, India supported the transferring of Iran’s dossier on its nuclear programme from the IAEA to UN Security Council. This was a huge setback to India-Iran relations.
  • Relations were back on track in 2008 when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to India, and India promised an independent policy towards Iran and not yield to US pressure.

Recent Times

  • India has worked hard to maintain its ties with Iran when there were international sanctions on Iran from all sides. Bilateral trade with Iran suffered due to banking and insurance censures
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Iran Modi’s visit to Iran was somewhat belated, considering the diplomatic rush to Tehran as it opened up its vast, untapped economy to the world after the success of the nuclear deal with the West.
  • Modi’s visit was very well laid out, with Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Oil, and Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs laying the base on crucial topics such as oil, gas and the India-Iran millstone known as the Chabahar Port project.
  • The main positive from Modi’s visit was that both India and Iran decided to move out of the twisting of signing memorandums of understanding with each other over the Chabahar project.
  • During his visit, India, Afghanistan and Iran signed a trilateral trade treaty for developing the port project and beyond.
  • In 2015, India liberalized its visa policy for Iran and struck it off the prior referral category (PRC) of countries.
  • Iran can be the key supporter of India in the wake of the growing influence of terror groups such as the Islamic State.
  • Iranian foreign minister visited India in 2015.
  • In April 2016, India’s Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas visited Iran. India and Iran sealed the terms to develop the gas project Farzad B in the Persian Gulf. Farzad-B field was discovered by Indian explorers in 2012.
  •  India lined up USD 20 billion as investment in oil & gas, petrochemical and fertilizer projects in Iran.
  • In May 2016, PM Modi visited to Iran, where the historic Chabahar port agreement was signed which is a contract for the development and operation of the port for 10 years of 2 terminals and 5 berths.
  • There was a MoU on provision of services by Indian Railways, including financing $1.6 billion, for Chabahar-Zahedan railway line.
  •  India will invest in setting up industries from aluminum to urea plants in Chabahar.
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