US glare on In­dia’s crude oil im­ports from Iran, de­fence deal with Rus­sia

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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