On Iran, India to Make Its Case to US, National Interest First: Sources

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The Government of India is bracing for more “pressure“ from the U.S. on Iran sanctions in the coming weeks but hopes that there may be an exception made for its dealings on the Chabahar port.

However, sources said the government was yet to take any decision on cutting oil import from Iran, as the U.S. had demanded, when its U.N. envoy Nikki Haley visited India recently.

In February 2018, after President Rouhani’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, India had committed to increase that intake by 25% this year. Iran remains an “important near neighbour” for India, and a major oil supplier, and the government hoped to have further discussions with the U.S. to understand the options it has on dealing with Tehran. India is second only to China when it comes to oil import from Iran.

However, the U.S.’ decision to walk out of the multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposition of sanctions has cast a shadow on its future engagement. the U.S. State Department reiterated its intention to get tough with all countries engaging with Iran for trade, energy and infrastructure projects.

Brian Hook, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department said, “We are not looking to grant licenses or waivers, because doing so would substantially reduce pressure on Iran and this is a campaign of imposing pressure on Iran. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis, but as with our other sanctions, we are not looking to grant waivers or licenses.

Washington is stepping up pressure on all nations to completely stop buying oil from Iran as part of its plan to reduce Tehran’s oil revenue to zero. the US is expected to engage with several countries within the next month on the Iran issue, including India.

The US sanctions against Iran comes after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers in an effort to stall Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. The US asked nations to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November 4, when sanctions on Iran’s banking also kicks in. The first part of the sanctions begins on August 6, under which there will be a clampdown on the automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals.