US wants India to stop all oil imports from Iran

RSTV Bureau
File photo of a deep sea oil rig.

File photo of a deep sea oil rig.

United States wants India to stop all oil imports from Iran by November, a move seen as the part of Trump regime’s bid to isolate Iran in the economic space after it reimposed sanctions. As per reports quoting top US officials, several other countries, including China, has been asked to reduce and then stop importing oil from Iran.

On China and India, yes, certainly, a state department official told reporters when asked if the US has told all countries, including India and China, to stop all their imports of Iranian oil by November 4.

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

“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,” the state department official said on condition of anonymity.

That’s what we’ve been telling them in our bilateral meetings. They should be preparing, now, to go to zero (by November 4), the official said.

The official said this is 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.

This is may well emerge as a major topic of discussion between India and the US during the first 2+2 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.

The State Department asserted that there would be no waivers under the new sanctions regime. “I would be hesitant to say ‘zero waivers ever’. I think the predisposition would be, ‘No, we’re not granting waivers’,” the official said.

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

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.

(With inputs from Agencies)