India says it is examining the details of the exemption US has given to India from the sanctions on Iran’s oil imports and development of the crucial Chabahar port.
In his weekly briefing, the official spokesperson of the MEA Raveesh Kumar said that, “We have seen the US notification including India in the list of countries granted Significant Reduction Exemption for continued purchase of Iranian crude oil without attracting US sanctions. We appreciate that the US government has taken in to account our need for energy security and understood our sensitivities on this matter. We welcome this. We are now examining the details of the exemption.”
Earlier this week on Monday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced that Washington was exempting India and seven other countries from the sanctions on importing oil from Iran. There have been concerns in New Delhi on the fresh sanctions imposed on Iran which came into force from Nov 5 by the US as that country is a major supplier of crude oil to India.
Said Kumar, “India is a major importer of crude oil from Iran. This is very important for our own energy security needs. We appreciate the fact that US has shown understanding of our position and have said that their intention is not to hurt India.”
However, the spokesman did not give details about the quantum of crude oil that India will continue to import.
On the Chabahar port, the official spokesperson said that, “We have taken note of the US statement that exception has been provided under the Iran Freedom and Counter Proliferation Act of 2012 with respect to development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway line.”
Adding, “We appreciate that the US recognized the role which this Port will play to bring strategic and long term benefits to Afghanistan as well as enhance Afghanistan’s connectivity with the outside world,” he added.
The US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Tehran signed with the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union and imposed the new sanctions on Iran over its alleged nuclear programme.
“We appreciate that the US recognized the role which this port will play to bring strategic and long-term benefits to Afghanistan as well as enhance Afghanistan’s connectivity with the outside world,” said Kumar.
India is investing $500 million to develop the Chabahar port and a road link from there to Afghanistan to give access to that country by bypassing Pakistan.
Earlier sharing his views with FE, Prof Dr Rajan Kumar, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, JNU, said, “It’s good that India has been exempted from the purview of sanctions. Iran is the third largest supplier of oil to India and the sanctions could have adversely impacted the price of oil in India. Iran is also of strategic importance to India.”
According to the JNU professor “Chabahar port is key to India’s connectivity project. It’s a good sign that this project will not be affected by sanctions now. It seems that a good sense finally prevailed in Washington. The credit goes to tough position taken by India which had clearly indicated that it won’t succumb to pressure from Washington.”
Former ambassador Anil Trigunayat pointed out that India has consistently been conveying its energy security imperatives and relationship with Iran and development of Chabahar port in the larger context of Afghanistan and central Asia to the US Administration including at the 2+2 Strategic Dialogue.
“India should not be held hostage to another country’s bilateral issues with a third country Viz.US-Iran in this case. I am happy that US have appreciated India’s legitimate concerns and extended the waiver facility considering their strategic partnership with India. In any case India is working on other payment mechanisms including Rupee-Rial trade which may be plugged with other available institutional mechanisms to obviate the requirement to route through US banking channels.”