India's statement that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major setback for the US attempt to isolate the Iranian government over the nuclear issue. It's also bitterly disappointing news for those of us who have championed a close relationship with India.
Manish Swarup/AP Photo
The Indian government’s ill-advised statement last week that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major setback for the US attempt to isolate the Iranian government over the nuclear issue. The New York Times reported Sunday that Indian authorities are actively aiding Indian firms to avoid current sanctions by advising them to pay for Iranian oil in Indian rupees. It may go even further by agreeing to barter deals with Iran – all to circumvent the sanctions regime carefully constructed by the United States and its friends and allies. According to the Times, India now has the dubious distinction of being the leading importer of Iranian oil.
This is bitterly disappointing news for those of us who have championed a close relationship with India. And it represents a real setback in the attempt by the last three American presidents to establish a close and strategic partnership with successive Indian governments.
The Indian government’s defense is that it relies on Iran for 12 percent of its oil imports and cannot afford to break those trade ties. But India has had years to adjust and make alternative arrangements. Ironically, the US has had considerable success on the sanctions front in recent months. The European Union has decided to implement an oil embargo on Iran, the US is introducing Central Bank sanctions, and even the East Asian countries, such as China, have imported less Iranian oil in recent months.