The United States is “highly gratified by co-operation from a great friend and partner like India” on the Iranian oil sanctions, the White House said on Wednesday as the Trump administration slapped sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, ramping up its tension with Tehran.
“We have been highly gratified by cooperation from a great friend and partner like India, and even less well-aligned countries such as China, in making the rather obvious choice that the United States would be the business partner of choice, not Iran,” a senior official told reporters during a conference call after the Trump administration slapped sanctions against the Iranian foreign minister.
Referring to an open-source information, the official said Iranian export of oil for July was at 1,00,000 barrels per day, which is down considerably from the previous historic low of 7,81,000.
The official credited the Trump administration for this and added that Iran has very little to offer in terms of being a trading partner.
“The United States just continues to be appreciative, particularly of India’s cooperation, and continues to be very mindful of India’s legitimate energy needs,” the senior official said responding to a question on reports about talks between India and Iran on oil trade through their own currencies.
“We are very happy as a major energy producer to contribute to what we see as an ample supply to the global market that can keep India amply supplied with energy,” said the official requesting anonymity.
A second senior administration official said that the US officials have been all over the world very carefully making sure that all of its partners and allies and companies around the world understand the consequences of violating the sanctions.
The United States has been very explicit about the need to ensure that the sanctionable activity has ceased.
“We’re getting very important results there,” the second administration official said.
The Trump administration had recently withdrawn the waiver on sanctions granted to India, China, Turkey and a few other oil customers of Iran after 1 May, ending six months of exception to the sanctions.
The US had granted exemptions to India, China, Japan, South Korea and Turkey “to ensure a well-supplied oil market” in November last year for six months after it re-imposed sanctions on the Persian nation in view of its controversial nuclear programme.
Following the withdrawal of the US waiver, India has stopped contracting oil shipments from Iran.
Oil imports from Iran in the past fiscal ended March amounted to about $9 billion, as per industry figures.
Iran used to offer India a longer credit period of 60 days compared to other crude suppliers, while the cargo insurance was free. India has been Iran’s second largest customer of oil, after China.
Earlier last month, Iran had expressed hope that India will act according to its national interest and promised that the country would act as a “protector” of India’s energy security even as the country is “under pressure” to not buy Tehran’s oil.
Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni asserted that his country can provide “affordability, accessibility and security” of energy to India.
His remarks come a week after US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo hailed India for cutting off oil imports from Iran and desisting from buying petroleum products from Venezuela and promised to ensure that adequate crude is made available to the energy-hungry country.
The tensions between Tehran and Washington worsened after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year.