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U.S. Examining Whether Indian Port Deal With Iran Violates Sanctions

The United States is examining whether an Indian deal to develop Iran's Chabahar port violates international sanctions.

U.S. senators have questioned whether India's deal to develop a port in Iran violates international sanctions, and the State Department said it is examining the question.

"We have been very clear with the Indians [about] continuing restrictions on activities with respect to Iran," Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 24.

India on May 23 pledged $500 million to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar, to gain trade access to Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. The route is currently blocked by India's archrival Pakistan.

The United States and Europe lifted sanctions in January under a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, but some restrictions to trade remain.

Biswal said India's relationship with Iran is focused on economic and energy issues, and the administration recognizes India's need for a trade route.

"Iran represents for India a gateway into Afghanistan and Central Asia," she said. "It needs access that it doesn't have."

Biswal said she had not seen any sign of Indian military cooperation with Iran, which might be of concern to the United States.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP