Iran on Saturday said it is studying a plan to dig a canal to connect the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf – a project that would provide a strategic access to Russia to warm waters in the south if materialized.
The announcement has been made by Mehdi Sanaei, Iran’s ambassador to Moscow, who was speaking to students in St. Petersburg on Friday, as reported by Iran’s IRNA news agency.
"Yes, this issue is under study", said Sanaei in response to a question regarding the possibility of creating a canal through which ships would travel between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. However, he did not provide any details.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Embassy in Moscow in a statement has rejected speculations that Iran has already started negotiations with Russia over the ambitious project.
A canal to link the two seas will need to cover a distance of at least 1,000 kilometers and will require several billion dollars. There are also several key technical challenges including the rough terrain conditions in the mountains of the north as well as the central deserts.
Also on Thursday, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran agreed to speed up the talks on a North-South transport corridor, RT.com has quoted the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying. Part of it will go along the western coast of the Caspian Sea from Russia to Iran through Azerbaijan.
The North-South corridor, when built, is expected to significantly reduce the time of cargo transport from India to Central Asia and Russia. At present, it takes about 40 days to ship goods from Mumbai in India to Moscow. The new route will be able to cut this time to 14 days, RT added.
The corridor will also bypass the overloaded and expensive Suez Canal.