After wavering on US President Donald Trump’s demands to stop importing Iran oil, India has put its foot down and told the US team at the 2+2 dialogue that cutting off Iranian crude supplies would adversely impact the Indian economy. The US administration has put out an international alert warning countries to cut oil imports from Iran to ‘zero’ by November 4 or suffer sanctions. Isolating Iran is the ‘punishment’ being meted out by what the US perceives as violation by Iran of the 2015 nuclear treaty.
India’s stand is a comeback from its earlier retreat. From June onwards, the Union government had warned refiners like Indian Oil Corporation and Mangalore Refinery to make other arrangements and gradually taper off crude imports from Iran. As a result, imports had fallen 16 per cent to 5,92,800 barrels per day from Iran in June. Iran is India’s third largest crude supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
India has now taken a leaf from China’s book. The country in early August rejected US’ demand for ending import of Iranian crude. Both the countries have begun shifting all their Iran imports to vessels owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company. This is after international insurers and reinsurers have begun winding down services for Iranian oil, fearing the unleashing of US sanctions on them. Under the new arrangement, Iran will provide shipping and insurance, enabling Indian refiners to continue purchases of the country’s oil.
Imports from Iran benefit India as the former offers freight concessions which translates into lower fuel bills. India’s stand is rightly based on what will benefit the country’s own economy and people. It is also a question of safeguarding our sovereignty. We are currently witnessing the spectacle of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and his team travelling from one capital to another handing out threats to stop trading with Iran.
We thought colonialism was long past, but imperialism in its various vestiges rears up its head time and again. In these circumstances, it is commendable that India has stood up.