New Delhi: Announcing the end of the waiver for some countries that buy Iranian oil, Washington has conveyed to Delhi that it has stood by India on combating terrorism after the Pulwama attack and it now expects reciprocity on President Donald Trump’s commitment to disrupt Iran’s terror network.
The Trump administration has assured that the exemption of the development of the Chabahar port project will continue although its decision to halt the waiver on oil imports to India is guided by its objective of “changing the Iranian regime’s malign behaviour”.
Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime means maximum pressure. That’s why the U.S. will not issue any exceptions to Iranian oil importers. The global oil market remains well-supplied. We’re confident it will remain stable as jurisdictions transition away from Iranian crude.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 22, 2019
“Until the waivers are not restored back, I don’t think India can buy oil from Iran. We will stop importing oil from Iran,” a top official said.
India has been the second biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil after China. It bought some 24 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in the fiscal ended 31 March (2018-19). Iran supplied more than a tenth of its oil needs.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman Sanjiv Singh said refiners import crude oil from a wide range of sources and had been lining up alternate supplies for the past months.
The US was to take a decision on waiver extension this month and Indian refineries had prepared plans for all eventualities.
“We have alternate sources lined up to make up for any shortfall,” he said.
Trump administration’s increased coordination with Saudi Arabia, to ensure that oil markets remain fully supplied, follows persistent and bipartisan criticism in Congress of the kingdom’s human rights record, its war in Yemen and its role in the October killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States.
Saudi Arabia is an avowed enemy of Iran. It has also been coordinating with Russia in recent years to manage global oil prices.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman in 2017, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan and reflecting growing convergence of interests among the three countries.
The Narendra Modi government is keen on developing Chabahar Port in Iran and is hopeful of starting operations by 2018.