Iranian Navy personnel stand aboard two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Two Iranian warships and a sub recently visited Mumbai harbor in India. (Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — Two Iranian warships and a submarine docked in Mumbai harbor Dec. 5 for a three-day goodwill visit, an Indian Navy official said.
The warships, including a destroyer, a helicopter-carrying tanker and a Kilo-class submarine, docked in the civil area of the Mumbai harbor and not in the area designated for the Indian Navy. The two Iranian warships and the Russian-built submarine are scheduled to proceed to Sri Lanka Dec. 7.
The last time Iranian Navy warships were in India was in 2009, and joint maneuvers were conducted in 2006.
Indo-Iran defense ties had been halted by the US-led sanctions against Iran for pursuing a nuclear weapon program.
The Iranian flotilla arrived in India at a time when there is an easing of tension between Iran andworld powers.
“After Tehran agreed to curb its disputed nuclear activity, India hopes to pump fresh impetus into Indo-Iran ties in trade and defense,” said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here. Oil accounts for 75 percent of Indo-Iranian trade.
Meanwhile, New Delhi has taken up stalled work on the development of Iran’s Chabahar port, which was halted after the UN imposed sanctions on Iran. India proposes to link the Chabahar port to Afghanistan, thus creating a trade link to Central Asia.
An official with the Indian Foreign Ministry said Chabahar is of utmost strategic interest to India. The port is just 72 kilometers west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, which is being built by China.
India and Iran signed a historic strategic agreement in January 2003 under which India agreed to give hardware, training and maintenance facilities to Iranian forces in lieu of getting surety of Iranian space and facilities in the event of a war with Pakistan. The duration of the pact is not known.