India firm on Iran policy, keen to ‘know’ from US on alternative sources of crude

India firm on Iran policy, keen to ‘know’ from US on alternative sources of crude

Agency News

New Delhi, Sep 5: India is firm about its policy on Iran vis-a-vis both the vexed and pressing issues of the oil import and also its nuclear programme and has time and again made its position clear that the government would take 'independent' decision on procuring oil.

Hours before the crucial inaugural of Indo-US 2+2 dialogue on Thursday to be held between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their respective counterparts US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary James Matis here, a senior official said here: "Our position has been quite clear on Iran....We have said that we would not like to see Iran become a nuclear weapon state. This is also a concern for the international community, not just the United States".

At the meeting, India would like to sensitise the US team on certain key aspects and would like the visiting term inform about other sources of crude and also the alternative payment mechanisms.

"Firstly, the US side will be sensitised that we are heavily energy-import reliant country..... Eighty three per cent of our energy comes from external sources and out of this, 25 per cent is Iranian crude," he said. India is also keen to understand from the United States if the oil import is stopped from Iran or reduced, what would be other sources of crude.

"We would also like to know the sources and also the prices....Prices are vital because this will impact consumers and overall economic scenario too". However, New Delhi is also firm about one thing that Iran "should have access" to usage of civilian nuclear energy.

The observations have their own significance as the India-US high level political interactions covering wide range of issues including strategic and geo-political situation would also dwell at length on Iran.

In June this year, the United States said it will impose sanctions against 'all importers of Iranian oil' by November 4. More than appearing to tough, the announcement was also surprising as it stunned the oil markets and perhaps also likely to alienate the US allies and adversaries further.

On his part, Secretary Pompeo has hinted that while India buying a missile defence system from Russia and oil from Iran would not be the primary focus of the dialogue. "They will certainly come up, but I don't think they will be the primary focus....Those decisions [Russian missile defence systems and Iran oil export to India] are important to the relationship but I don't see us resolving those or having even intention to resolve those during this set of meetings of strategic dialogue," Pompeo said.

At the parleys on Thursday, it is understood, the Indian side would like to impress upon the visiting US delegation and top leaders that Iran is a "major relation" for New Delhi in the region.

"Our view remains that we support the UN Security Council resolution of 2015 but if there are any issues within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (on Iran's nuclear programme) then it is for the parties who negotiated the JCPoA to work that out," the source said. Seeking to clarify the government of India stand on the US threat of sanctions which could come into force from November this year, the source said: "it will have a global impact".

"We are not the only country....even countries like Japan, China, Korea and European Union are talking about it. Similar to them, India is also engaged in talks with the United States on it," the source said.

At the meeting, Indian side would also tell the US leaders and delegation that there are certain 'functional and technical requirements issues'. "Some of our refineries in India are dependent on certain kinds of crude oil," the source said.

"The idea is to have a discussion with them in which Indian side would try to understand from the US side what their requirements and understanding are. What are their expectations and we explain to them what our expectations are," the official remarked.

"At the end of it all, the decision has to be made independently by the government of India. It is not going to be made either under any kind of compulsion that the United States places on us or any kind of compulsion Iran places," the source maintained adding, "it is a decision that somebody cannot impose on us".

The sources, however, said India will continue to discuss these issues in details with all parties and New Delhi is also in 'discussions' with other parties and nations like the European Union or China or Japan who also discussing the issue with the United States. "We would also like to know other kinds of payment mechanisms involved," the official added. (UNI)