By Dalileh Rahimi Ashtiani*
Experts took part in a meeting on geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic position of Iran’s transport corridors and transit routes, discussing the following issues:
International rail network
Iran’s rail network has many extraordinary advantages, including the potential to get connected to railroads in Central Asia in northeast, to Pakistan in east, and to Iraq in west. This position can help Iran have access to a number of international rail networks. Two of the aforesaid three networks can connect Iran to Northern and Southern Europe.
Safe air corridor
Iran’s safe air corridor has been in a better position following implementation of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and in view of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as well as developments in Syria and Iraq. As a result, flights conducted through this corridor have multiplied several times in past years. This issue, in addition to refurbishment of Iran’s air fleet, have provided a good opportunity for investment in Iran’s aviation sector.
As for pipeline transport, the latest report by international experts says that Iran enjoys abundant natural gas reserves, which make it a good supply source for Europe following implementation of the JCPOA. In a long-term plan, Iran can build a pipeline through Iraq to supply gas to Syria and then Italy. This issue will both diversify European Union’s energy resources and create regional balance in economic and political rivalries. Since energy supply has been used by Russia and Turkey as a political tool, the European Union has been under pressure by the two countries because it acquires needed gas through transit route that crosses these countries.
Prominent and unique position of Chabahar port in Indian Ocean
In view of the 20-year trends, East Asia is expected to be an arena for future conflicts and this is why the geographical position of Chabahar port has been warmly welcomed. The European Union, India and China are among major parties interested in investing in development of this southeastern Iranian port. Of course, the European Union may delay such investment due to security dependence on and alliance with the United States. However, India and China have shown determination for investment in this region. Iran can study major proposals for investment in this port before making the best decision in this regard.
Participants in this meeting highlighted the need to diversify Iran’s transport and transit routes, emphasizing that any kind of partnership or investment or proposal aimed at activating multilateral mechanisms with neighboring countries must be welcomed. This welcome would include all neighbors of Iran in northern, southern, eastern and western regions.
*Dalileh Rahimi Ashtiani
M.A. Student in International Relations