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Special to the tribune
India faces US curbs over Iran oil imports
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

The US may impose tough economic sanctions on India for continuing to import crude oil from Iran.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton exempted 11 nations from US sanctions on Iran because they have “significantly reduced” their oil imports from the West Asian nation.

India was pointedly missing from the list, which includes Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Besides India, China, South Korea, Turkey and eight other nations also could face punishment for importing Iranian oil.

Under the National Defense Authorisation Act for 2012, the US President must make a determination by March 30 on whether or not price and supply conditions in the market allow for these countries to reduce imports of Iranian crude oil.

“And if the President does make that determination, that then triggers or calls into action another set of sanctions that come into effect on June 28,” a senior State Department official said, pleading anonymity.

These sanctions are against any transactions with the Central Bank of Iran by any private or public financial institution, and related to the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran.

The 10 European Union nations exempted on Tuesday banned all new purchases of Iranian crude oil as of January 23 and said they would phase out existing contracts by July 1. Japan, meanwhile, also significantly reduced Iranian crude oil purchases.

“The actions taken by these countries were not easy,” Clinton said in a statement. “They had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and

quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil, which many had been reliant on for their energy needs.”

A senior State Department official said the European nations and Japan are models for the 12 nations, including India, that continue to rely on Iranian crude oil. “For those 12 countries, they now have an example that they can look at to determine what kind of actions that they might be willing to consider domestically,” the official said.

Earlier this month, the Indian Embassy in Washington took the unusual step of issuing a statement to refute news reports on India’s imports of Iranian crude oil. These reports presented a “distorted picture” and generated concern among US lawmakers, the statement said.

“India’s relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with non-proliferation objectives, nor do we seek to contradict the relationships we have with our friends in West Asia or with the United States and Europe,” it added.

No exemption

  • The US exempted 11 nations from sanctions on Tuesday
  • India was pointedly missing from the list. Besides India, 11 other nations, including China, could face punishment
  • The US President must make a determination by March 30 on whether or not price and supply conditions in the market allow for these countries to reduce imports of Iranian crude oil


Delhi disappointed
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, March 21
India is studying the implications of the US decision. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Wednesday said India might be ending the financial year with oil imports below 17 million tonne from Iran.

Official sources said it was quite disappointing that the US move has come despite New Delhi conveying to Washington on several occasions that its interaction with Iran was need based as well as limited.

Amid suggestions from the US, India has started wooing Saudi Arabia to meet its crude demand. It also mulls increasing supplies from Qatar and other Gulf states.



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