“Iran-Tajikistan railroad project to remain on drawing board for some time”

Posted on April 16, 2012

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Despite ceremonies Iran-Tajikistan railroad project will remain on drawing board for some time to come, U.S. Northeastern University Professor Kamran Dadkhah said.

Professor was commenting on the news about Iran and Tajikistan agreeing on implementing Iran-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railroad project.

Observers note the recent expansion of cooperation between Iran and the Central Asian countries. As an example, Iran expressed its readiness to build a gas and water pipelines, railroad and transport road towards Tajikistan through Afghanistan.

Tehran even said it is ready to pay for the construction of Tajik part of the gas pipeline. Also Iran expands cooperation with Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“There is no question that such a project would be beneficial for all three countries and indeed is incumbent upon them to carry out this and similar projects,” Dadkhah said. “However there are serious doubts that this project will start soon and even more serious doubts that it will be finished in foreseeable future”.

Dadkhah noted that the details and plan of the work have to be worked out, but there are a number of problems that make it unlikely for the project to get off the ground. Dadkhah believes that one of such problems is that a crucial segment of the railroad passes through Afghanistan.

“Railroad work requires safety and security. Which country and with what force will keep workers, engineers, and equipment safe in Afghanistan?,” he said.

Another big problem with this project, according to Dadkhah, is that there has to be a reciprocal purchase.

“Assuming the project is completed, Iranian oil is sold to Afghanistan and Tajikistan and transported via this railroad. But what would be the reciprocal purchase of Iran from these two countries? It is important that this project be a part of a larger cooperation and trade package,” he explained.

Speaking about how the U.S. would react to such project, Dadkhah said that Tajikistan needs good relationship with the United States.

“At the same time, Tajikistan cannot alienate neighboring countries like Iran with whom it has cultural ties. Tajikistan will use such agreements to show its friendship and ties to Iran. But then no serious actions will be taken, thus satisfying the United States,” he noted.

As for Russia, professor underscored that Russia would be ambivalent to such projects.

“On one hand a connection through Tajikistan to Afghanistan would be an advantage for Russian goods when Afghanistan’s economy gets going. On the other hand, they definitely would not like Tajikistan getting close to Iran particularly through the sale of energy and water,” Dadkhah said, adding that Russia should not worry much since the project is unlikely to take off the ground any time soon.

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