US glare on India’s crude oil imports from Iran, defence deal with Russia
A day after US President Donald Trump made a loaded comment that India would soon know if it would face the heat of US sanctions, the State Department said on Friday that it was keeping a close tab on some of New Delhi’s recent decisions that run afoul of Washington’s interests.
The US is “very carefully” reviewing India’s decision to continue buying Iranian oil and purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
The comments also come in the backdrop of Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s announcement early this week that two state-owned refiners would import crude oil from Iran in November.
According to the US diktat, countries that buy oil from Iran should bring down their import to zero by November 4, lest punitive measures under a US domestic law called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) should kick in.
In Russia’s case, the law targets Russian oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.
The Trump administration has given a strong message to all countries that the US is committed to re-enforcing all of its sanctions. Under CAATSA, only the President has the power to revoke any punitive measure against a particular country.
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook will be visiting India this week for crucial talks ahead of the November 4 deadline.
Of the 220.4 million tonnes of crude oil imported by India in 2017-18, nearly 9.4 per cent was from Iran. While India has taken a stand to ignore the US threat and continue buying fuel from Iran, it may run into problems ranging from payment mechanism to logistical issues as the dynamics will change dramatically once sanctions kick in.
The president was also asked about CAATSA and possible imposition of those sanctions. And he said, you know, India is going to find out
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson