Iran says will strive to ensure oil supplies to India

A man looks at the Napoli registered Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie anchored at the Cochin Oil Terminal in the southern Indian city of Kochi

Questioning the government's decision to cut oil imports from Iran, the Congress on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "paper tiger" and said he has buckled under the USA pressure.

Yesterday, deputy Iranian ambassador Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said, speaking at an event in New Delhi, that India would lose its "special privileges" if it suspends Iranian oil purchases in November when the sanctions take effect. It got reported, it got misquoted and they thought there was a need to clarify. The drop suggests that despite its initially tough stance on USA sanctions, Indian refiners have started changing their mind as the November 4 deadline to wind down business relations with Iran draws nearer.

"For India, Iran is an important partner for energy and connectivity", Kumar said at a press conference on Thursday. In the clarification by the Iranian embassy, they have explained a lot of things.

"India is a major importer of oil". The average daily rate for 2017 was 4.4 million bpd-a record high.

India's oil imports from Iran showed a decline of over 25 per cent in June, but some shipments loaded last month are expected to arrive this month, government and industry officials had said. Since then, the State Department has somewhat softened its stance, suggesting there maybe space for negotiations on waivers with "a handful of countries".

"We do share a very strong, very good relationship, we are in touch with them (Iran) on several issues including on the fallout of the USA withdrawal from (the nuclear deal)", said Raveesh Kumar, India's Foreign Ministry spokesman. We will see what necessary steps we need to take in this. In an address at a seminar yesterday, Rahaghi said Iran will end the privileges being provided to India if it tries to source oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the United States and others to offset cuts in Iranian oil import.

The Congress today slammed the government over the decline in India's oil imports from Iran in June, saying it shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a "paper tiger" who has given in to USA pressure. The Trump Administration brought back sanctions against Iran after pulling out the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal.

India was one of the few countries that continued to deal with Iran during previous sanctions although it had to cut imports from Tehran as banking, insurance and shipping channels were choked.

It also asked if the government has a concrete plan to protect the Indian customers from the rise of fuel prices due to reduction in oil imports from Iran.

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