President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port, an extension to the strategic Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, which more than triples its annual shipment capacity to 8.5 million tons.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by around 60 officials from 16 countries, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Turkmenistan.
Addressing the ceremony, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi said that once transportation infrastructures are complete in Chabahar it will serve as the gateway to regional economies, IRNA reported.
Lying on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Chabahar is the country’s only oceanic port and given its strategic location in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) development of the port is of high significance for Iran.
In the inaugural ceremony, President Rouhani emphasized that the project would boost unity among regional countries.
Linking Central Asian states with other countries
In October, India sent its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through Chabahar Port, marking opening of a new strategic transit route.
In a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in Tehran on Saturday ahead of the inauguration ceremony of Shahid Beheshti Port, Zarif said: "It also shows the importance of the port in the development of the region and the routes that connect Central Asian states to other countries in the world through the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean."
The first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port development plan is in fact the first stage of developing Chabahar.
Costing $1 billion, this phase increased the port’s capacity to 8.5 million tons from 2.5 million tons and it is planned to reach 82-85 million tons by the end of its fifth phase of development, according to Behrouz Aghaei, the director general of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Department.
A railway route is also under construction from Chabahar to Zahedan (center city of Sistan-Baluchestan Province) to boost the capacity of the new strategic transit route. The railway project has a 25.7 percent progress so far and will be complete by the next 2-3 years, the official announced.