AVA- US waivers for eight importers of Iranian oil end on Wednesday, with American authorities saying neither a wind-down period nor a short-term exemption are being considered for those seeking to continue purchases.
India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj accosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the plan during a phone conversation, saying New Delhi “should be allowed to import Iranian crude for some more time without being impacted by US secondary sanctions”, the paper reported Tuesday.
“Swaraj explained India’s political and economic conditions to Pompeo and sought some relaxation as making immediate arrangements for 23.5 million tonnes of oil – the amount supplied by Iran every year – from an alternative source was not possible,” it said, citing people familiar with the developments.
“However, Pompeo did not make any commitment and told Swaraj the matter was no longer handled at his level as a decision had been made by the US administration to strictly enforce sanctions,” it added.
According to the paper, Swaraj was initially scheduled to speak to Pompeo a day before he announced on April 22 that the Trump administration would no longer grant exemptions from sanctions to any country importing Iranian oil.
The call could not go through only because of “scheduling issues” and the two finally spoke on Saturday, it said.
India is Iran’s second biggest oil buyer after China, getting about 10% of its supplies from the Islamic Republic.
According to the Hindustan Times, Indian officials had held extensive consultations with their US counterparts about an extension of the six-month waiver announced last November and were expecting a positive outcome.
With a general election underway in India, Swaraj told Pompeo that “the next government with a fresh mandate will take a final call on this issue”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already come under opposition attacks over his failure to guarantee continued access to Iranian oil.
“The US ban on exporting crude oil from Iran to India, is it not an attack on India’s sovereignty?” Randeep Singh Surjewala, a Congress Party lawmaker and national spokesman, said on Twitter last week. “Why is Modiji, who falsely boasts of his bravery, now silent?”
Another national opposition party, the Communist Party of India, condemned the US decision for its negative impact on India and said Modi must continue buying Iranian oil.
“Any step to stop importing oil from Iran will harm India’s energy security and national interests,” the communist party said as it urged Swaraj to reject Trump’s “illegal” move.
“Since the United States has unilaterally imposed these illegal sanctions, the BJP-led government must reject these sanctions and continue to buy oil from Iran which is in the country’s interests.”
Pompeo warned countries and companies on Monday that it would be a costly mistake to violate US sanctions by importing Iranian oil after Wednesday.
“Companies that choose to violate the sanctions, we will pursue and we will ensure they are held accountable for the violations they engage in,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
Among Iran’s largest oil importers, Turkey and China have already dismissed such threats and pledged to continue oil imports from Iran.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said last week the sanctions will backfire as he made it clear that his country will continue to have trade with Iran.
“Iranians are remarkably resilient and have learned how to live under adverse conditions since 1979,” he said in Ankara.
Analysts have warned that Washington’s uncompromising stance is set to further strain its already rockey relations with world countries.
Pompeo on Monday tried to put on a brave face on that, saying it was confident trade talks between the United States and China would not be affected by the end of Iran oil waivers.
“We have had lots of talks with China about this issue. I’m confident that the trade talks will continue and run their natural course,” he said.
Chinese tabloid newspaper the Global Times on Monday said China and India could work together “to form a buyers' bloc” to counter US sanctions on Iran.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said the US decision to end sanctions waivers had angered Washington's allies,
"People are not happy. China is not happy, Turkey is not happy, Russia is not happy. France is not happy. US allies are not happy that this is happening and they say that they will find ways of resisting it," Zarif told Fox News.
Tuesday 30 April 2019 23:25