The United States on Tuesday insisted its allies, including India, should end all imports of crude oil from Iran by November 4 when sanctions against Iran come into effect again, reported AFP quoting a US State Department official. The official said countries would be subject to sanctions if oil imports from Iran are not cut to zero.

A senior State Department official warned foreign capitals that the US will not be “granting waivers” under the new sanctions regime and described tightening the noose on Tehran as “one of our top national security priorities.”

“I would be hesitant to say zero waivers ever,” said the official, but added, “No, we’re not granting waivers.”

The official said India and China “will be subject to the same sanctions that everybody else is”. “And yes, we will certainly be requesting that their oil imports go to zero,” said the official. “Without question.” Given their huge energy requirements, India and China are major importers of Iranian oil.

The official said the message has been delivered to allies in Europe and Asia and an interagency team of State and Treasury Department officials will be visiting India, China and other countries in the coming weeks, reported the Hindustan Times.

The official also said that countries should start reducing the import of oil from Iran now and bring it to zero by November 4. “Without question, they should be reduced,” the official said. “That’s what we’ve been telling them in our bilateral meetings.”

This could emerge as a topic of discussion between India and the US during the first 2+2 dialogue on July 6, PTI reported. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman will be in the US for talks with their American counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

Iran exported about 2.4 million barrels a day of crude oil in May, with Asia buying about two thirds of the total and Europe the rest, Bloomberg reported quoting the International Energy Agency. Iranian exports dropped to about one million to 1.5 million barrels a day during the 2013-’15 period of strong US and European economic sanctions.

Iran nuclear deal and sanctions

Last month, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 during Barack Obama’s tenure, re-imposing US sanctions that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear program.

The nuclear deal, signed by the five permanent members of the United Nations, Germany, the European Union and Iran, had lifted decades-old sanctions on Tehran on the promise that it would tone down its nuclear programme considerably.

Iran, meanwhile, has banned the import of 1,339 products that it can produce itself as it prepares for sanctions that the United States has threatened to impose again.