Geeta Mohan

India engages with US, EU over American threats on Iranian oil imports

India has been engaging with America and the European Union (EU) over the issue of oil imports from Iran. US officials are in India for last minute negotiations with the November 4 deadline soon approaching which would lead to the implementation of sanctions against all those countries that continue to import oil from Iran.

US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis F Fannon held meetings with the Petroleum Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs counterparts in Delhi on Friday on the back of stern warnings from the United States of America.

“During this trip, Special Representative Hook will engage our allies and partners on our shared need to counter the entirety of the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior in the Middle East, and in their own neighbourhoods,” said a State Department statement.

Sources have told India Today that it would be “impossible” to meet the November 4 deadline of bringing down Iranian oil import to “zero”.

Responding to questions on reports that India will continue to purchase oil from Iran after November 4, State department spokesperson Heather Nauert said this was “not helpful”.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday said two state refiners had placed orders for importing crude oil from Iran in November.

“Overall with regard to those sanctions that will take effect on November 4 – and you’re referring to oil sanctions for Iran and countries that choose to continue purchasing oil from Iran – we have had conversations with many partners and allies around the world about those sanctions,” Nauert said on Thursday.

“We make our policies very clear to those countries. We continue to have conversations with the government of Iraq about that particular issue and the implications for the reimposition of sanctions that were previously lifted or even waived under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)”, she added.

The Trump administration has given the same message to all countries around the world, and the president has said that the United States is committed to re-enforcing all of its sanctions.

Meanwhile, India is engaging its allies and partners across the globe to seek a solution to the impending crisis.

India Today has learnt that Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met representatives of many countries including the EU representative in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. The conversations revolved around alternate payment options for continuance of oil imports from Iran.

The European Union is in discussion with all the stakeholders to find a legal instrument to allow transfer of payments. While they are still in the process of setting up that mechanism, it would be an option that their partners such as India could avail.

“We are very much in favour of full implementation of JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) for political and more for practical reasons .We are working on the mechanism which will allow us to transfer payments to Iran and such mechanism will be open to all other partners ,” EU Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski said at a conference at ICWA.

This issue came up during the meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

All partners of the JCPOA barring the United States of America have opposed the unilateral pullout by the Trump administration.

JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council-China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States-plus Germany),and the European Union.

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