US Sanctions On Iran A ‘Challenge’ Given India’s Close Ties With Both Countries, Says Pradhan

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New Delhi: A US expert-level delegation will arrive India on July 16 and 17 to discuss sanctions with Petroleum Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs experts and share each other’s perspective on its impact on global oil markets. But Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas DharmendraPradhan has said that India sees the US sanctions on Iran as a ‘challenge’ given its close ties with both countries, but will take a ‘considered and comprehensive’ view, based on ‘national interest’, and find a way to secure its energy needs.

India, led by private players, purchased around 10% of its crude oil from Iran in 2016-17, but the figure has risen to 18% this year with 33 million tons of crude being imported.

Pradhan underlined the importance of ties with both countries. “We have a special strategic relationship with US. We have a historic, cultural and civilisational relationship with Iran. Iran is also a factor in India-Afghanistan relationship because of its geographic proximity. Our economic interests are tied to both. The government will take a comprehensive view.”

When asked how it will deal with the fallout of the sanctions, the minister said, “Let us wait and watch. The government has a considered view. National interest is paramount and we will align our decision on that.”

Pradhan did not offer a specific comment on whether India would reduce its dependence in the backdrop of US indications that sanctions would not apply to such countries. “ We don’t want to give a kneejerk reaction...We will do what is desirable. This is not an issue of quantum – how much to reduce or increase. It is far more comprehensive than that.” He added the government is aware of the timeline - sanctions kick in on November 4 - and is working on a plan. “I will not go beyond this.”

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