The United States is seeking new supply routes for the war in Afghanistan that would bypass Russia, and has even had logistics experts review roads through Iran that might be used by NATO allies, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Military planners and Pentagon officials told the Times that the effort aims to find alternatives to the risky Khyber Pass routes in Pakistan and to prepare for the possible loss of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. The planning also reflects concerns that Russia could use its clout to restrict shipments through its territory.
Officials cautioned the U.S. was not considering the use of Iranian routes for American supplies, given the near frozen state of relations between the two countries, the paper reported.
But to consider every contingency, Pentagon and NATO planners have studied Iranian routes from the port of Chabahar, on the Arabian Sea, that link with a new road recently completed by India in western Afghanistan, the Times wrote. The route is considered shorter and safer than those in Pakistan.
In a recent interview, NATO’s top commander, U.S. Gen. John Craddock, said NATO would not oppose member nations’ making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan.
"Those would be national decisions," he said. "NATO 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."