India is among eight countries that the United States has allowed to temporarily import oil from Iran despite sanctions on Tehran, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo confirmed on Monday. The sanctions came into force on Monday.
The eight countries are India, China, South Korea, Japan, Greece, Chinese Taipei, Turkey and Italy, Bloomberg quoted Pompeo as saying. “Iranian regime can either do 180 degree turn from its course of action and act like normal country or see its economy crumble,” the secretary of state said. “Hope new agreement with Iran’s possible but until it makes changes in 12 ways I listed in May, we will be relentless in exerting pressure on it.”
He added: “We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to [bring down their imports from Iran to] zero.”
Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018. The US had earlier said that it expects all countries, including India, to reduce their Iranian oil imports to zero by November 5. Last week, India had said it was engaged in discussions with the United States, Iran and other stakeholders on the decision to reimpose sanctions.
In May, Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of a nuclear agreement his country had signed with Iran during the presidency of Barack Obama, calling it “decaying and rotten”. 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 after it promised to tone down its nuclear programme considerably.
The reimposed sanctions are aimed at “fundamentally altering the behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, Pompeo had said last week. The US has placed 12 demands that Tehran must meet to get the sanctions lifted, including ending support for terrorism and ending military engagement in Syria. “Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,” AP had quoted Pompeo as saying on Friday.
On Monday, as the sanctions came into force, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would “proudly bypass” them and called them “illegal and unjust”. Thousands of Iranians staged a protest against the United States on Sunday and chanted “death to America”.