This Monday, one month after the Iranian military retaliation against Israel, an Indian minister shook the hand of his counterpart in Tehran. For the first time, India will have a port in foreign waters of high strategic interest for its exports to Central Asia and Europe.

After the signature of the minister of the sector, Sarbananda Sonowal, India has ten years to invest 375 million dollars in one of the two halves of the deep-water port of Chabahar.

Although the project has been dragging on for two decades and had been in the freezer since the end of the Trump era, this joint push has caught Washington, Brussels and Tel Aviv on the wrong foot. Not in vain, Narendra Modi, who that same day was taking a mass bath in Benares, is the most pro-Israel of the Indian prime ministers.

The US has already warned, through the spokesperson for the Secretary of State, Vedant Patel, of the “potential risk of sanctions.”

The handshake between India and Iran reveals something that some preferred not to see. The Hamas raid of October 7 and Israeli military retaliation on an industrial scale have not only bloodied or disrupted hundreds of thousands of lives. They have also derailed, until further notice, projects that were immediately on everyone’s lips, such as the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor.

An ambitious project that combined European, Arab, Israeli and Indian interests, leaving aside the Turks, Iranians and, obviously, the Russians. All this, with the secondary objective of elevating India as a counterweight to China.

However, New Delhi diplomacy has read the morass into which the invasion of Gaza has plunged relations between Israel and the Arab world and has made a move, fleeing the strangulation in the Straits of Hormuz and Bab el Mandeb.

The aforementioned corridor, now in question, was actually a replica of the international North-South corridor, now greened, but already proposed by Russia, India and Iran at the beginning of the century. In it, the port of Chabahar was always a key piece.

To avoid offending sensitivities, India presents it as its only access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan’s blockade. Even more so, like the Indian replica of the nearby Chinese-built port of Gwadar, in Pakistani Balochistan.

But in India itself it is presented as a highway between Bombay and Saint Petersburg – sea, road, rail and river – through the Caspian or Armenia and Georgia. A shortcut to access central and northern Europe. Something that reveals that New Delhi has also made its own reading of the day after the war in Ukraine. Bad news for the Mediterranean, beyond Piraeus.

India is going to continue playing with two decks because it believes that, as the most populous country and the fifth largest economy, it can afford it. In contrast to 2019, when pressure from Trump led the Indian government to reconsider its purchases of Iranian oil (which today is 90% controlled by China).

Chabahar port is a state affair and will be managed by India Ports Global, dominated by the state-run Mumbai port. But the ten-year concession – compared to China’s 99 in the Sinhalese port of Hambantota – denotes Iranian caution.

The other bet, via the Emirates and Arabia, induced by the mirage of the Abraham Accords, had the tycoon closest to Modi, Gautam Adani, as a touchstone. Two years ago, he obtained the concession of the old port of Haifa, in Israel (China has built the new one), when he already controlled the port of Mundra, the Indian hub of the corridor.

India and Iran, in the end, are neighboring civilizations. Chanakya, the Indian Machiavelli, was born two thousand years before the Florentine.