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Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates

11 July 2018

"... If India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the USA and others for the 10 per cent of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports which mean higher CAD (Current Account Deficit) and deprivation of all other privileges Iran has offered to India", Rahaghi said.

Rahaghi pointed out that Iran had remained a reliable energy partner for India providing oil at a "rationale pricing".

While the U.S. wants all countries, India included, to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero, Washington's ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had said a fortnight ago that the Americans were open to working with New Delhi on Chabahar in view of its strategic importance, particularly with regard to Afghanistan.

India's oil imports from Iran declined by 15.9% in June, the first month after the USA said it would reimpose sanctions on the country, according to data from shipping and industry sources.

Speaking at a seminar on global diplomacy and bilateral ties with India, Rahaghi said that Chabahar broadens trade opportunities between India, Iran, Afghanistan and more Central Asian countries.

However, the minister said, Iran has passed various difficulties during the past 40 years and today the country is more united and integrated.

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He also called India to "work together to immunise the relationship between the two countries" and proposed the adoption of necessary instruments and mechanisms like setting up banking relations, opening new transaction routes and helping each other's markets and business communities.

The drop suggests that despite its initially tough stance on US sanctions, Indian refiners have started changing their mind as the November 4 deadline to wind down business relations with Iran draws nearer. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).

Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. He warned such imports largely would be "sanctionable activity and we will enforce those sanctions". Pompeo said that the USA would consider waivers for certain countries that wish to import Iranian oil, but added that Washington is determined to take a hard line on Tehran.

Meanwhile, however, the Indian government has become the target of criticism both at home and in Iran after it gave in to USA pressure and refiners began cutting imports. "So the United States must abandon its policy of resorting to threats or use of force", said Mr Rahaghi.

The policy was announced after Trump pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - which had been signed by Obama in 2015.

Mr Rahaghi also suggested that a regional dialogue forum should be set up in the Persian Gulf and West Asia to resolve regional crises.

Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates