During his two-day Iran visit, Jaishankar met President Ebrahim Raisi, conveyed PM Modi’s greetings, and sought guidance on further development of ties between the two nations.


  • S Jaishankar expressed grave concern about ship attacks affecting global interests during his two-day visit to Iran.
  • Amidst regional tensions, Jaishankar also engaged with Iranian officials, discussing cooperation on the strategic Chabahar port and addressing the Kerman attack.

India-Iran Relation

Historical and Political Relations:

  • The historical connections between India and Iran can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. 
  • During the time of the Harappan civilization, there was a flourishing trade relationship between the two regions. 
  • The Harappan people imported valuable commodities such as silver, copper, turquoise, and lapis lazuli from Persia and Afghanistan. 
  • In return, India supplied items like ivory to Iran. The exchange included resources like silver, gold, lead, zinc, and turquoise, showcasing the depth of their economic ties. 
  • The friendship treaty between India and Iran was established on March 15, 1950.
  • Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit and the signing of the Tehran Declaration in 2001, along with President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami’s visit and the signing of the New Delhi Declaration in 2003, further strengthened cooperation between the two nations.
  • Secretary Ali Shamkhani visited India in 2021 for the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan.
  • PM Modi and President Raisi reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation, especially in trade and connectivity, during their first meeting in 2022.
  • Joint Working Groups facilitate cooperation in various sectors, and there is law enforcement cooperation, evidenced by a bilateral meeting between India’s Narcotics Control Bureau and Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police in 2022.
  • Both countries engage in multilateral forums, including the United Nations, SCO, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, and Asian Parliamentary Assembly.
  • Both nations are concerned about terrorism in the region, particularly from the Pak-Afghan area, and support an inclusive Afghan government.

Strategic importance:  

For India:

  • Geographical Advantage: Iran’s strategic location between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf benefits India.
  • Connectivity Alternative: Iran offers an alternate route to connect with Afghanistan and Central Asian republics, crucial when the land route through Pakistan is unavailable.
  • Resource Access: Iran possesses extensive deposits of crude oil and natural gas, contributing to India’s energy security.

For Iran:

  • Strategic Indian Location: India, as the second-largest populous country with a major economy, provides a substantial market for Iran’s oil, reducing transportation costs.
  • Trade Enhancement: Access to the world’s fifth-largest economy allows Iran to invest and strengthen trade ties, providing a boost to its economy.


  • The first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar is under development by India.
  • In 2021, India delivered six mobile harbour cranes to the port.
  • Since its operationalization in December 2018, the port has facilitated cargo movements from various countries, including Russia, Brazil, Germany, Bangladesh, Thailand, Romania, UAE, Kuwait, and Australia.
  • Trilateral meetings focusing on the Joint Use of Chabahar Port occurred between Iran, India, and Uzbekistan in December 2020 and December 2021.
  • India, a founding member, actively participates in the International North-South Transport Corridor.
  • India is also involved in the Trilateral Agreement on Trade, Transport, and Transit, contributing to advancing regional connectivity. 
  • Iran is a crucial source of oil for India, ranking as its second-largest supplier.
  • Energy formed the core of India-Iran economic ties, influencing critical infrastructure like the Mangalore refinery, designed to accommodate Iran’s ‘heavy crude.’

Trade Relations

  • India and Iran share strong trade cooperation, with significant Indian exports to Iran encompassing items such as rice, tea, sugar, pharmaceuticals, manmade staple fibers, electrical machinery, and artificial jewelry. Conversely, major Indian imports from Iran comprise dry fruits, inorganic/organic chemicals, and glassware, among other goods.
  • India-Iran bilateral trade during the FY 2022-23 was $2.33 billion, registering a growth of 21.76% YOY. – source-MoCA

Humanitarian Assistance

  • India and Iran have collaborated extensively on addressing COVID-19 challenges. 
  • India contributed 1,125,000 vaccine doses and medical supplies to support Iran. 
  • Additionally, Malathion insecticide was supplied in 2020 and 2021 to aid in combatting desert locusts. 
  • Following the Iran earthquake in December 2023, India offered humanitarian assistance and expressed solidarity with the Iranian people.

Iran holds strategic importance for India due to various reasons:

  • Geopolitical Gateway: Iran’s location connects Central Asia, the Middle East, and South Asia, aligning with India’s “extended neighborhood” vision.
  • China Counterbalance: Amid China’s growing influence, Iran provides India with a crucial counterbalance, fostering collaborative efforts for regional stability.
  • Chabahar Port: The operational Chabahar port offers India an alternative route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
  • Overland Connectivity: Chabahar and the INSTC project enhance overland connectivity, promoting trade and economic cooperation between India, Iran, Central Asia, and Russia.
  • Energy Security: Iran’s substantial oil and gas reserves, coupled with its prior role as a major Indian oil supplier, contribute to India’s energy security.
  • Afghanistan Stability: Both nations collaborate to maintain stability in Afghanistan, aiming at economic development and countering extremist influences.
  • Global Energy Dynamics: Iran’s control over key energy routes, especially the Strait of Hormuz, allows India to influence global energy markets through collaboration.
  • Counterterrorism Collaboration: Recognizing mutual threats from extremism, India and Iran engage in counterterrorism efforts.

India faces several concerns in its relations with Iran:

US Sanctions Impact: The 2018 US sanctions on Iran, triggered by Tehran’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, severely affected India-Iran trade, especially in terms of India’s energy imports.

Anti-Iran Coalition Dynamics: India’s unexpected participation in the Israel-India-UAE-U.S. group, perceived as “anti-Iran,” strained ties. 

  • Iranian support to Yemeni Houthis, linked to a drone attack on a UAE oil facility with Indian casualties, added complexity.

Strategic Stakes and Chabahar Port: Iran is crucial for India’s trade with Central Asian countries, but China’s increasing presence raises concerns for India’s strategic interests in the Chabahar port. 

  • Access to Chabahar is vital for India, and China’s ties with oil producers pose governance and energy security challenges.
  • The rise of China as a major player in the region, with its 25-year strategic partnership with Iran, adds another layer of complexity.
  • U.S. Sanctions (CAATSA): In 2019, CAATSA sanctions halted India’s oil imports from Iran after the Iran nuclear deal revocation, impacting India’s energy security.
  • Israel Ties and China Relations: India’s close ties with Israel and Iran’s relations with China create bilateral contention.
  • Geopolitical Stance in Yemen: Iran’s stance in Yemen against India’s partners (Saudi Arabia and UAE) adds discomfort to relations.
  • Kashmir Issue: Iran’s strong statement on India’s abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir creates tension, with past regimes instigating Muslims in Kashmir, leading to Indian reprisals.
  • Project Termination: The termination of Indian involvement in the Chabahar Railway Project and Farzad B gas field adds a sour note to the relationship.
  • Sunni-Shia Conflicts: Shared concern over Sunni-Shia conflicts, particularly in Pakistan, where Iran and India have the largest and fourth-largest Shia Muslim populations, respectively.
  • Alignment Issues: India’s alignment with the Israel-India-UAE-U.S. group strained ties, viewed as an “anti-Iran” coalition.

Way Forward

  • Despite challenges posed by Iran’s strained relations with the U.S. and its allies, India seeks collaboration with Iran to influence Afghanistan’s geopolitics, ensure overland access to Central Asia and Russia, maintain a secure Persian Gulf, and secure its energy needs. 
  • Iran’s role is critical in shaping India’s interactions with other West Asian powers. The shifting dynamics in Afghanistan present both challenges and opportunities for India and Iran to strengthen their strategic partnership in this intricate geopolitical scenario.
  • As India expands beyond South Asia, fostering a peaceful extended neighborhood, especially with Iran and Afghanistan, becomes imperative. This not only bolsters trade and energy security but also aligns with India’s aspirations of becoming a superpower.

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