The Iranian envoy to India on Tuesday promised that his country would act as a “protector” of India’s energy security even as the country was “under pressure” to not buy Tehran’s oil, PTI reported.

Iran faces renewed sanctions amid tensions with the United States. India, once one of the biggest customers of Iranian oil, has cut down significantly in the face of American sanctions. On a visit to India last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said India had made “hard choices” to cut oil imports from Iran.

“We think India is under pressure, but we believe India is a friend of Iran,” the ambassador, Ali Chegeni, said. “India’s relations with other countries do not affect us. Our relations with India are based on history, it is based on long-term mutual benefit and interest.”

Chegeni said Iran was the only country that can provide all aspects of energy mentioned by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last week: affordability, accessibility and security. “We expect from a friend...that we understand each other, follow our national interest and Iran is ready for being the protector of energy security of India,” Chegeni said.

Chegeni said: “India is a friend forever. We understand that India will act according to its national interest. As we understand from Mr Jaishankar’s statement that India will follow its national interest. That is acceptable for everybody.”

The ambassador accused the US of indulging in “terrorist acts” by imposing economic sanctions on countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. “They will isolate themselves,” he said.

Chegeni said that if India fulfils its oil needs from Saudi Arabia and the United States, Iran will let it decide for itself. He claimed many countries continued to buy oil from Iran both officially and unofficially. “Our oil is sold, destinations are secret,” he said.

The US had re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Eight countries, including India, had been allowed to temporarily import oil from Iran, but the United States decided not to renew the waiver after it expired in May.

India has earlier said it is prepared to deal with the impact of the sanctions imposed by the United States on buying oil from Iran. The Ministry of External Affairs had said in May that New Delhi’s decision will be based on the country’s energy security, commercial consideration and economic interests. It said there would be additional supplies from other major oil producing countries.