The US administration has agreed to allow eight countries including India to continue purchasing Iran’s crude oil. US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo said that the US has agreed to exempt eight countries since they have made “significant reductions” in oil imports. US sanctions on Iran will kick-in on November 5.
Bloomberg reported that close US allies South Korea and Japan had received waivers along with India, which relies heavily on supplies from Iran, adding that a list of all countries getting waivers was expected to be released officially on Monday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
“President @realDonaldTrump is reimposing all sanctions lifted under the unacceptable Iran deal. The U.S. is reimposing the toughest sanctions ever on Iran, targeting many of the corrupt regime’s critical sectors,” the White House tweeted.
“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves towards getting to zero crude oil importation. These negotiations are still ongoing. Two of the jurisdictions will completely end imports as part of their agreements. The other six will import at greatly reduced levels,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington DC, during a conference call with Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
Pompeo said that countries like India, if granted exemption, would be asked to bring down oil imports to zero from Iran in six months. Negotiations are still ongoing, he said while explaining the reasons for not revealing the names of the countries to be exempted.
India is the second largest buyer of Iranian oil after China, is being pushed by the US to restrict its monthly purchase to 1.25 million tonnes or 15 million tonnes a year (300,000 barrels per day), down from 22.6 million tonnes (452,000 barrels per day) bought in 2017-18 financial year, according to sources.
Sources in New Delhi and Washington DC told The Indian Express that India is ‘likely’ to be part of the eight countries which are being granted to get Iran oil waiver, US sanctions Monday there has been no official communication so far.
“We are almost certain that India is likely to be one of those eight countries. But we will wait for the announcement on Monday,” a source said.
Turkey said it has also been informed that it is one of the eight countries, while financial news agency Bloomberg reported that Japan and South Korea would be the other countries, apart from India.
The US announced its intention to re-impose sanctions on Iran from November 5, as US President Donald Trump tweeted a picture of himself in a Game of Thrones-style poster which said, “sanctions are coming”.
Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale underlined the importance of Chabahar: “We are also seeking to develop the Chabahar port as a gateway for onward connectivity to and from Afghanistan and Central Asia. Since its inauguration last year, we have shipped about 110 thousand metric tons of much-needed wheat and 2000 metric tons of pulses from India to Afghanistan through this port. To tap its full potential for the benefit of Afghanistan, we might also need to pursue the development of a rail line from Chabahar to Zahedan at some future stage. There is also a potential for the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor which will considerably reduce the time and cost of transport from India to Central Asia.”
According to the source, the US had replied that they ‘fully understand’, and added that it is ‘our policy’, but “it is not in our interest to damage your economy”.
On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We have had several rounds of conversation not only with the US but also with Iran and other stakeholders and as far as the US is concerned, they are well aware of our expectations of the requirement which we have for oil domestically and which is very critical for sustaining our economic growth.”
“We have taken note of the US position which was conveyed by Secretary Pompeo that the intention of imposing sanctions on Iran is not to hurt India. We do want to engage and we will continue to engage with the US and other stakeholders to ensure that our energy security is not compromised and also that our national interests are interested,” Kumar told reporters.