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US wants India to stop Iran oil imports, and no waiver from sanctions

A senior state department official said on 26 June 2018 that the United States will insist that India and all other buyers of Iranian crude must stop buying it, cutting imports to ‘zero’ by November 4 when sanctions go into effect against Iran and also warned that there will be no waivers, unlike the previous round.

The message has been delivered already to allies in Europe and Asia.

To a question about waiver, the official said, “…we are not granting waivers”.

Iranian crude importers will be hit by “secondary sanctions” by the US which can take many forms; the most significant one will be being blocked from the American financial system which no country, be it developed or undeveloped, can afford..

India is the second largest buyer of Iranian crude after China, and Iran is the third largest supplier to India after Saudi Arabia and Iraq..

More clarity is likely in New Delhi on the extent of cuts and waivers and all other related issues after discussions with the US team that the state department official said could be visiting soon. And these issues may even figure in discussions at the inaugural 2+2 meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries on July 6 in Washington DC.

As a result of the last round of sanctions, , India’s crude purchase dropped from an average of 320,00 barrels a day in 2011 to 190,000 barrels a day on the day the Iran deal in 2016. But India’s purchase of Iranian crude never touched ‘zero’ import as it is demanded now. Neither China nor South Korea too had a zero import.

The Obama administration had instituted a system of granting waivers to these buyers if they were seen to be making “significant” reduction in reviews conducted every 180 days.

The intention was obvious; it was to take them away from Iranian oil. But with Trump administration, this weaning off must be immediate and a clean cut which it wants to achieve through sanctions.

 

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