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US urge India to stop oil imports from Iran by November


The US insists all countries, including India, to stop all oil imports from Iran by November as it ruled out any exemption to India and Indian companies from its reimposed Iranian sanctions regime.

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A state department official confirmed this while talking to the reporters. He said, “On China and India, yes, certainly,” and added that they should stop their imports of Iranian oil by November 4.

“Their (India and China) companies will be subject to the same sanctions that everybody else’s are if they engage in those sectors of the economy that are sanctionable, where there were sanctions imposed prior to 2015. And yes, we will certainly be requesting that their oil imports go to zero. Without question.”

He said that Indian and Chinese companies would be subjected to the same sanctions as those in other countries. India and China are major importers of Iranian oil owing to their huge energy needs.

As per the official, this is a part of the Trump administration’s effort to isolate streams of Iranian funding and are looking to highlight the totality of Iran’s malign behaviour across the region.

The official said, “We remain engaged with the EU-three throughout this process, and we are going to continue to branch out in new countries and reach new partners as the weeks go forward.”

Noting that America’s allies are aware of its concern, the official claimed these countries want to work with the US. “I don’t want to get into the substance of each discussion I’ve had, but, for a vast majority of countries, they are willing to adhere and support our approach to this because they also view it as a threat. And it’s gotten worse since 2015, not better, on their regional activity side,” the official said.

A recent report by the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said that international sanctions on Iran increased in 2010-2013, India sought to preserve its longstanding ties with Iran while cooperating with the sanctions regime.

In 2010, the Reserve Bank of India ceased using a Tehran-based regional body, the Asian Clearing Union, to handle transactions with Iran. In January 2012, Iran agreed to accept India’s local currency, the rupee, to settle nearly half of its sales to India.

“During 2011-2015, India reduced its purchases of Iranian oil at some cost to its own development in order to receive from the US administration exemptions from sanctions. India has increased oil purchases from Iran to nearly pre-2012 levels after sanctions were lifted, and in May 2016 India agreed to transfer to Iran about USD 6.5 billion that it owed for Iranian oil shipments but which was held up for payment due to sanctions,” the report said.

“India’s position has generally been that it will only enforce sanctions authorised by UN Security Council resolutions, rendering it likely that India will resist US efforts to compel it to comply with reimposed US sanctions such as those that mandate cuts in oil purchases from Iran,” said the CRS report.

This could be a major topic of discussion between India and the US during the first two-plus-two dialogue next week. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be in the US next week for talks with their American counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

Image Source – NDTV

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