India vows to ignore Trump’s sanctions and continue Iran imports

NEW DELHIUS President Donald Trump may have ordered the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, but one of Asia’s biggest oil importers — and a strategic partner of the US — plans on ignoring them.

India, a long-time buyer of oil from both Iran and Venezuela, only complies with United Nations (UN)-mandated sanctions and not those imposed by one country on another, said Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.

“India will comply with UN sanctions and not any country-specific sanctions,” Swaraj said at an annual briefing, flanked by her two junior foreign ministers and India’s foreign secretary.

Swaraj later met Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, where they discussed Trump’s plan to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Swaraj said “all parties to the agreement should engage constructively for peaceful resolution of the issues”, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Indian refiners had slashed purchases of Iranian crude to about half their previous levels when the UN, European Union and US imposed a broad array of economic sanctions against Tehran. Nevertheless, India continued to import Iranian crude oil and was among the last six customers of the Persian Gulf nation.

Purchases by India, which meets over 80% of its oil needs through imports, surged after the sanctions were lifted in 2016. Indian refiners bought a record 27.2 million tonnes of Iranian oil during the year through March 2017, a whopping 114% increase over the previous year

India is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer. The South Asian nation is also expected to be the fastest-growing oil consumer through 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. — Bloomberg