A senior source in the Iranian government has rubbished the suggestion that NATO forces, with their supply lines to Afghanistan under pressure, may get permission to use Iranian territory for supplying their forces.
Laughing at the idea, he told StratPost, “We don’t have any relations with US forces or European forces in Afghanistan. We don’t support the idea of US forces in Afghanistan. How can we allow that?”
The Taliban blew up a crucial bridge used to supply NATO troops on Monday at the Khyber Pass west of Peshawar, cutting off a key route for NATO at a time when President Obama’s administration is contemplating a surge in troop levels in Afghanistan. Around 75 per cent of NATO’s supplies pass come via Pakistan and cross into Afghanistan through two routes.
Kyrgyzstan too had added to the pressure by asking for the closure of the US military base at Manas on Tuesday, reportedly under pressure from Russia. The base was being used to supply troops in Afghanistan.
Reacting to all of this pressure, NATO commander General John Craddock had indicated that idea of the use of Iranian territory by forces of NATO-member countries would not be out of question. “Those would be national decisions. Nations should act in a manner that is consistent with their national interest and with their ability to resupply their forces. I think it is purely up to them,” he said, adding “NATO is looking at flexible, alternate routing. I think that is healthy,” Craddock told the Associated Press, when asked about the possibility of using Iranian territory for supply routes.
NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had also earlier called for engagement with Iran for their operations in Afghanistan.
Germany and Spain have received permission for the use of Russian territory to transport non-lethal supplies to their forces in Afghanistan.
Similarly, NATO could have used the Zaranj-Delaram highway built by the Indian Army’s Border Roads Organization that connects the Iranian border to the lifeline of Afghanistan, the crucial ring highway (Afghanistan has no railways) and could facilitate the use of the Iranian port of Chabahar in the Persian Gulf for supplying coalition forces in Afghanistan.