US says In­dia’s plan to buy Iran oil, Rus­sian mis­siles ‘not help­ful’

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Nation - Yash­want Raj let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

As a top US of­fi­cial headed to New Delhi for talks on Iran sanc­tions, a state depart­ment spokesper­son said “it’s not help­ful” to note that In­dia plans to con­tinue buy­ing Ira­nian oil and Rus­sian S-400 air de­fence sys­tems, both sub­ject to sec­ondary sanc­tions from the US un­der sep­a­rate laws.

The spokesper­son’s ob­ser­va­tion on Thurs­day came a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump told re­porters that In­dia would find out “sooner than you think” about his de­ci­sion on whether to im­pose sanc­tions on a $5.4-bil­lion S-400 deal with Rus­sia. He also said the US would “take care of” of re­ported plans by In­dia and China to con­tinue buy­ing Ira­nian crude af­ter sanc­tions kick in on Novem­ber 5.

State spokesper­son Heather Nauert added a new edge to Trump’s com­ments, say­ing: “When we hear about things such as pur­chas­ing oil or pur­chas­ing of the S-400 sys­tems, it’s not help­ful”. “The US govern­ment just re­views that very care­fully,” she added. The state depart­ment an­nounced on Thurs­day that the spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Iran, Brian Hook, ac­com­pa­nied by as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for en­ergy Fran­cis Fan­non, will meet “In­dian govern­ment coun­ter­parts for con­sul­ta­tions”.

The state­ment didn’t pro­vide de­tails of talk­ing points, but added that Hook “will en­gage our al­lies and part­ners on our shared need to counter the en­tirety of the Ira­nian regime’s de­struc­tive be­hav­iour in the Mid­dle East, and in their own neigh­bour­hoods”.

From New Delhi, Hook will travel to Luxembourg, France and Bel­gium.

In­dia signed an agree­ment with Rus­sia last week for five S-400 sys­tems de­spite ap­peals from the US that the air de­fence sys­tems are a “fo­cus area” of sec­ondary sanc­tions un­der the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act (CAATSA), which is aimed at pun­ish­ing Rus­sia for an­nex­ing Crimea and in­ter­fer­ing in the 2016 US elec­tions.

The In­dian govern­ment has in­di­cated state-owned re­fin­ers will con­tinue buy­ing Ira­nian crude af­ter the sec­ond round of US sanc­tions kick in on Novem­ber 5, specif­i­cally tar­get­ing oil, ports and bank­ing.

WASH­ING­TON:

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