India is likely to be among the 8 nations which are expected to get the US waiver from sanction on Iran oil imports. The US agreed to exempt 8 countries because these nations have made ‘significant reductions’ in oil imports from Iran. “We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves towards getting to zero crude oil importation. These negotiations are still ongoing. Two of the jurisdictions will completely end imports as part of their agreements. The other six will import at greatly reduced levels,” said US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo. The exemption of India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea was reported by some reliable media agencies.
The next round of US sanctions on Iran will be effective from November, 5. Donald Trump decided to revive the sanctions that were lifted after the 2015 Nuclear Deal between the United States and Iran. India is one of the largest oil importing nations in Asia and happens to be one of the six nations that continued purchasing crude oil from Iran despite American sanctions from 2012 to 2015. Almost 85% of India’s oil demands are fulfilled through oil imports, a huge chunk of which comes from Venezuela and Iran, two nations under heavy sanctions from the United States. Iran is the third largest oil supplier to India after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. India on the other hand, is the second largest importer of Iranian oil after China.
Earlier, the United States had asked India to support their sanctions over Iran and reduce oil imports to zero in six months. However, India made its position clear about its reliability on imports for its energy requirements and compliance with any such sanction will be catastrophic for its economy. In September this year, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had talks with her American counterpart, Mike Pompeo over the oil import issue. Making its point of view clear, India responded,“We told them that we are an energy-reliant country, and candidly told them that rapid reduction of oil imports from Iran will impact our economy. We said that our economy should not be impacted by your policies,” said a government official. India has decided to defy American sanctions and public sector refineries like Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) have made contracts to import 1.25 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in November.
India’s relation with the United States has significantly improved over the last two decades. There is a bipartisan consensus in America that they need to engage more closely with India on economic, defence and foreign policy matters. Modi government has also reciprocated the American gesture but its foreign policy is guided by ‘National Interest’ rather than engaging with a particular block. The 21st century has seen a shift in diplomacy and international affairs, away from ideological considerations it has moved towards pragmatism. PM Modi is a kind of statesman who embodies this transformation in the international arena. From being the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel to sending General VK Singh on a two-day visit to the isolated North Korean regime, India under PM Modi seems to be shaping a different style of foreign policy.
.As far as sanctioning India is concerned, the US under Donald Trump has rightly refrained from making this geopolitical blunder. India will continue to be indispensable to the United States vis-s-vis dealing with Islamic terror, Pakistan and countering the Chinese expansive policies. The need of India for the United States is serving as India’s leverage over it and therefore, it is obvious on the part of the global hegemon to give ‘special-treatment‘ to India.