India to decide on oil purchase from Iran after polls: Sushma

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told her visiting Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Tuesday that a decision on purchasing Iranian oil in the face of US economic sanctions will be made after the conclusion of India’s general election keeping in mind New Delhi’s energy security. Official sources here said Iranian oil exports and Tehran’s approach to recent developments in the region, including tensions between Iran and the US over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear deal figured in the discussions between Zarif and Swaraj.

Zarif, who arrived in New Delhi late on Monday to enlist India’s support against the backdrop of the Iran-US tensions, raised the purchase of oil from Iran and Swaraj reiterated India’s position that a decision will be made after the general elections while keeping in mind the country’s “commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests.”

The US decision announced in December last year to end the six-month waiver for eight countries from sanctions on Iranian oil imports from May 2 this year has hit India. India was among Iran’s top three oil buyers importing 23.6 million tonnes of crude in 2918, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs. The sources said Zarif, who visited New Delhi on Iran’s initiative, briefed the Indian side on Iran’s approach to developments in the region, including on JCPOA and also reviewed bilateral cooperation.

The outreach to India, he explained, was part of Iran’s consultations with key countries, including Russia, China, Turkmenistan and Iraq, over the past few days. Zarif referred to President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on May 8 about Iran keeping larger amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water, instead of exporting the excess as required under the JCPOA. He also mentioned the 60-day timeline given to France, Germany, the UK and other parties to the JCPOA (China and Russia) for restoring oil exports and banking channels.

The Indian side, the people said, reiterated its position that it would like all parties to the JCPOA to continue to fulfil their commitments and engage constructively and resolve issues peacefully through dialogue. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of an interim contract between India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) for the development Chabahar port. They also discussed Afghanistan and agreed to “maintain close coordination on the evolving situation”, the sources said.

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