Iran is ready to help Armenia complete its North-South Road so both can avoid a road controlled by Azerbaijan since last year’s Armenia-Azerbaijan war.
Press TV, Iran’s English-language broadcaster, and Armenian news agencies reported that Deputy Transportation Minister Kheirollah Khademi arrived in Armenia Monday to express Tehran’s financial and technical support for a project allowing cargoes from Iran and elsewhere to bypass Azerbaijan-run territory on their way to Russia and Europe.
Khademi is visiting construction sites for Armenia's Tatev project, a 400-kilometer transit road linking the Iranian border crossing at Nordooz to the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Over half a 43km road, from Tatev to Aghvani, bypassing the Goris-Kapan stretch that is in the Armenian region of Syunik but since last year’s war under Azeri control, has been built. But it is barely suitable for large trucks and trailers. Armenia is planning a third bypass road, from Tatev to Ltsen.
In his joint press conference in Tehran Monday, Armenia's Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said he had briefed his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the new roads. The Iranian foreign minister said that joint plans for direct transit would be "finalized and implemented" very soon.
As things stand, Iranian trucks face a $130 levy imposed by the Azeris, who have been stopping Iranian trucks using the Goris-Kapan road.
Armenian economist Suren Parsyan Monday told the United Kingdom-funded JAMnews that Armenia’s annual trade turnover with Iran was $410 million, made up of $90 million of electricity exported to Iran and $320 million in imports of gas, oil products, fertilizers, and construction materials.
Armenia exports to Arab and Asian countries through Iran. For Iran, Armenia offers access to markets in Georgia, Russia, the Black Sea states, and European countries.
According to Parsyan, the Tatev-Aghvani road cannot support the same volume of cargo even if widened. Parsyan also told JAMnews that the budget constraints meant construction would be delayed until at the end of 2022 and might take three years.
Regional tensions, which have simmered since last year’s Armenia-Azerbaijan six-week conflict, escalated August 25 when Azerbaijani troops denied Armenian vehicles access to part of the 21km Goris-Kapan road. The arrest of two Iranian truck drivers for "illegal entry into Azerbaijani territory" caused alarm in Tehran.