Stop oil import from Iran or face curbs: US

Stop oil import from Iran or face curbs: US

(File) Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the release of a postal stamp commemorating growing economic and trade ties between India and Iran at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi. PTI FILE

The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions, making it clear that there would be no waivers to anyone.

The US is prepared to take the “strongest action” against countries and entities who are found not complying with the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran, including reducing to zero the purchase of crude oil from the country, a senior official has told lawmakers.

Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of 2017-18 fiscal).

The US pulled out of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May and will reimpose sanctions on the country’s oil sector in November. The Trump administration says it wants to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero - which would deprive the Iranian government of its biggest source of hard currency.

“We are prepared to take the strongest actions possible on people who will not assist us in complying with this new range of sanctions that we are putting back into place,” Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing Thursday.

Responding to a question from Congressman Eliot Engel, the Indian-American official said the Trump Administration has been talking to all its allies and partners and trying to convince them to fully implement the new Iranian sanctions which the US has imposed following its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

“If any of the major buyers of Iranian crude, which is China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, if they refuse to sharply cut their purchases, are we really prepared to cut their banks off from the global banking system, which is the penalty under the US sanctions? Are we really prepared for that?” Engel asked.

“In response, we are prepared to take the most serious actions possible on Iran. We need to demonstrate to the Iranian regime that we will not tolerate its development of a nuclear programme for illicit purposes,” Singh said.

“We are having conversations with our allies, and our goal is to get the purchase of Iranian crude oil down to zero by November 5. That’s a critical goal for us,” Singh said in response to question from Congressman Engel.

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