Why Trump’s Iran Sanctions Could Backfire on US Goals to Stabilize Afghanistan’s Economy

Afghanistan is at risk of become an unintended victim of the Donald Trump administration’s sweeping sanctions against Tehran, announced as part of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in early May.

A major port complex is being developed on Iran’s southern coast that is set to provide a transport corridor to Afghanistan, granting the landlocked country new access to Indian Ocean trade.

But international players leading investment and financing of the Indian-backed port are now in limbo amid fears of punishment by U.S. secondary sanctions for doing business in Iran.

The Chabahar Port project, whose development is being led by India, has been touted as having the potential to boost Afghanistan’s trade by millions of dollars. It also aims to lay the infrastructural foundations to develop the impoverished country’s largely untapped mining industry, which is estimated to be worth billions. India relies on Iran for overland access to Afghanistan, and sees increased trade there as a way to reduce neighboring Pakistan’s leverage in the country.