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India will decide on buying crude from Iran after elections: Sushma Swaraj

Huma Siddiqui
sushma swaraj, iran, india

In a three-hour long talks with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj reiterated the position that a decision will be taken after the elections keeping in mind the country s commercial considerations, energy security, and economic interests.

In his second visit to India this year, and 12 days after the US waivers ended on sanctions imposed on buying Iranian oil, Iran s foreign minister Javad Zarif met with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi Sushma Swaraj.

Highly placed sources said that the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister took place at his own initiative to brief the Indian side on the Iranian approach to the recent developments in the region, including on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and to review bilateral cooperation.

During talks, sources said that Zarif recalled the steps announced by President Hassan Rouhani last week May 8 including decisions linked to the export of enriched material and heavy water. He mentioned that 60 days timeline has been given to EU-3 and other parties to JCPOA for restoring the oil and banking channels.

Iran had announced that it would reduce its commitments in a phased manner to the nuclear deal, also known as JCPOA and had said that it would invoke articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. As per those articles, it will not abide by limits for enriched uranium (LEU) and heavy water, but would still be within compliance limits of the JCPOA.

On its part, India reiterated its JCPOA position to Iran at the talks and suggested that parties stand by the agreement and to fulfill their commitments and all parties should engage constructively and resolve all issues peacefully and through dialogue.

The two leaders also reviewed the operationalization of the interim contract on the Chabahar Port between India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) and shared their views on the situation in Afghanistan and agreed to maintain close coordination on the evolving situation.

Soon after the expiry of the US waivers on the sanctions, India had announced that it will deal with the issue based on three factors — the country’s energy security, commercial consideration, and economic interests.

According to experts, the US sanctions on buying oil from Iran will adversely impact the Indian economy as the price of crude would be higher and India will have to look for other sources. New Delhi has indicated that it has started tapping other countries to meet its energy requirements. Iran is the third-largest oil supplier for India after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. India bought 23.6 million tons of Iranian oil in the financial year ending in March 2019.

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan Kumar, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University said, This is unfortunate that the US imposes unilateral sanctions on Iran without taking into account the energy and economic interests of countries like India and China.

Adding, Countries like India and China must put pressure on the US to relax its laws on sanction for countries which are heavily dependent on crude imports from Iran.

Last May, the US had brought back sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal which was struck in 2015 and had India and other countries to cut oil imports from the Gulf country to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions.

Also read: Will India look towards Latin America and the Caribbean to balance the Crude oil import?

However, the Trump administration had given a waiver of six months eight countries including India.

The world’s third-biggest oil consumer, India meets more than 80 percent of its oil needs through imports. Iran is its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10 percent of its total needs.

The Indo — Iran ties have been on an upswing in the last few years, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tehran in May 2016 with an aim to craft a strategic relationship with Iran and expand India’s ties with West Asia.