The United States is exploring alternative oil supplies to ensure its friends and partners, including India, are not adversely affected after the second round of sanctions against Iran comes into effect in November, PTI reported on Saturday, citing a senior US official.
“The United States is consulting with all of its friends and partners to discuss the implementation of the sanctions after the snap-back... we recognise India has a need for significant oil imports,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asia Region Alice Wells. “Part of the conversation is how to ensure that there are alternative supplies of oil so that our friend India’s economy is not adversely affected.”
Last month, US President Donald Trump reimposed economic sanctions against Tehran and said that anyone doing business with Iran would not be doing business with the US.
With the sanctions to come into force from November 4, the US expects all countries, including India, to reduce their Iranian oil imports to zero. However, the sanctions are not authorised by the United Nations and India traditionally only enforces sanctions endorsed by the world body.
On Wednesday, Tehran said India will continue to buy oil from Iran despite the US’ warnings. “Our Indian friends have always been categorical in terms of their intention to continue economic cooperation and import of oil from Iran,” said Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York.
Wells on Friday said private Indian companies are exploring new suppliers of crude oil. Even as experts in both countries discuss the imposition of the sanctions, the US is looking forward to continuing a very constructive dialogue with India, she said.
Wells said that the US government is also reviewing the effect of sanctions on the Chabahar Port in Iran, which was developed with investment from India. “We very much appreciate what India has done to provide both assistance to Afghanistan, including through using Chabahar Port for the delivery of wheat,” she said. “We also very much appreciate what India has done to allow Afghanistan to diversify its trade relationships, and again Chabahar has played a role there. So those factors will certainly be taken under consideration.”
The first phase of the Chabahar Port project was inaugurated in December. India invested $500 million (approximately Rs 3,200 crore) in the strategic project, which was built to bypass Pakistan and open a trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.