NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Friday said eight “jurisdictions” will get temporary waivers from US sanctions on the import of oil from Iran, which kicks from Sunday midnight, with sources saying India was on that list.
“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves toward getting to zero crude oil importation,” Pompeo told reporters in a conference call early Friday.
While he did not name the eight jurisdictions, saying a list would be released on Monday, Bloomberg News quoted a senior administration official as saying it included India, Japan, India and South Korea, and possibly China and Turkey. When asked if the word “jurisdiction” meant the European Union, Pompeo said it was not.
Stock markets around the world climbed on optimism about a potential ceasefire in the trade war between the US and China. Asian bourses led the rally with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surging 4 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.5 per cent. European and US stocks recorded 1 per cent gains in early trade.
Waivers are being granted to countries that have made important moves towards cutting down Iranian oil imports to zero, Pompeo said. Of the eight countries, six will import at “greatly reduced levels,” while the other two are at or near zero, but were getting a waiver to give them “flexibility and time” to end their dependence on Iranian oil imports.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that SWIFT, the international financial transfer system, would be subject to sanctions if it handles transactions with Iranian institutions. While Indian officials were unavailable for formal comment, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said on Thursday, “We will continue to engage with the US and other stakeholders to ensure that our energy security is not compromised and also that our national interests are protected.”
“The key phrase is national interest,” remarked another official.
“Any rise in oil prices after sanctions will hurt not just India, but every nation, including the US.”
India had also explained to “at several levels” to the US why it needed continued access to help build the Iranian port of Chabahar — and its allied infrastructure like roads and rail links — through which New Delhi is sending wheat and other goods to Afghanistan.