New Delhi is hopeful that it would be able to convince the United States to consider waivers for India for purchasing oil when energy-related sanctions come into force in November.
A team of US officials is expected to visit India soon to hold discussions on the sanctions against Iran and its implications for India.
“In the next few weeks, we expect to have some engagements on the issue with the US. We cannot prejudge what the US will be doing. We would have greater clarity on the issue after talking to them (US),” informed sources said.
India was expected to convey its view on Iran-related sanctions to the US when the two countries were scheduled to hold their ‘2+2’ ministerial-level dialogue in Washington on 6 July. The dialogue was postponed at the behest of the US due to other pressing global developments. The two countries are currently discussing the possible dates for rescheduling the dialogue. There is a possibility that the dialogue could be shifted to New Delhi.
Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018.
Sources acknowledged that “Iran is an important partner for India and a major source of its oil imports. The US understands our position and is fully aware of our historical and civilisational links with that country…hopefully, we will resolve the issue amicably”.
These comments came amid reports from Washington suggesting that the Trump administration could consider waivers on a case-to-case basis for countries like India but only after verifying if there was a reduction in oil purchases from Iran. A similar condition was imposed in the past too when the US granted waivers for Iran-related sanctions.
Like the rest of the world, India had also expected the US to gradually bring back sanctions after President Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal in May while giving time to buyers to look around for other suppliers of oil and other items being imported from Iran.
As far as the Chabahar Port in Iran is concerned, New Delhi believes that the US might not insist on bringing Indian investment in this key project under the purview of sanctions since the port provides a critical transport link to war-torn Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
Sources said India has also taken note of a senior Iranian diplomat’s remarks in New Delhi on Tuesday that India was not fulfilling its promise of making investments in the expansion of the port and that it would stand to lost special privileges if it cut Iranian oil imports.