India not to let US dictate its oil import from Iran

New Delhi is likely to use the Indo-US 2+2 dialogue as an opportunity to explain to the American government why crude oil import from Iran is important for energy security of India.

India will make it clear to the United States on Thursday that it would take a call on the quantum of its crude oil import from Iran, but would not allow “someone else” to dictate it.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will host American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James N Mattis for the inaugural India-US 2+2 dialogue which will be held in New Delhi on Thursday.

India is set to put up a strong resistance to growing pressure from American President Donald Trump's administration to stop crude oil import from Iran, which would again come under US sanctions from November 5.

Sources in New Delhi said on Tuesday that India itself would decide on the quantum of crude oil it would import from Iran after November 4. It would be a decision that New Delhi would take, taking into account the national interest of India, without allowing “someone else” to dictate, said sources aware of New Delhi's engagements with both Tehran and Washington DC.

New Delhi, however, is likely to use the Indo-US 2+2 dialogue as an opportunity to explain to the American government why crude oil import from Iran was important for energy security of India.

India is the second largest buyer of crude oil from Iran and has purportedly imported over 7,68,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the West Asian nation in July.

Iran, on the other hand, is the third largest supplier of oil for India.

The US started the process of reimposing sanctions on Iran after the Trump administration announced in May its decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran inked with the US, four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union.

The US has since been nudging India to cut down crude oil import from Iran.

The Trump administration recently reiterated that its goal remained getting “zero oil imports from Iran as quickly as possible, ideally by November 4”. It, however, said it was ready to work on a case-by-case basis with countries which were bringing down its energy imports from Iran.

The issue is likely to come up for discussion during the 2+2 dialogue on Thursday. New Delhi will reiterate India's position that the row should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy by respecting both Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as the international community’s strong interest in making sure that the Islamic Republic's atomic power programme remains “exclusively peaceful”.

India will convey to the US that any row over the implementation of the 2015 deal over the nuclear programme of Iran should be resolved by the parties of the deal – America, China, the UK, Russia, France, Germany, European Union and, of course, the West Asian nation itself — sources said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

New Delhi recently decided to allow India's state-owned refineries to import oil from Iran in vessels provided by National Iranian Tanker Company as well as insurance cover provided by state agencies of the Islamic Republic. The move is intended to protect the Shipping Corporation of India from US sanctions, which will target energy exports from Iran from November 5.

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