Robert Harneis-TDO- (FRANCE) - India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has announced that his country will ignore the US trade sanctions against Iran. “India will comply with UN sanctions and not any country-specific sanctions,” he said.
Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier. India bought a record 27.2 million tons of oil from Tehran during the last financial year, which ended in March 2018. It represents a 114 percent increase on the previous year making India the second biggest importer of Iranian oil after China.
RT has reported that the Iran and India intend to trade in rupees rather than the dollar to avoid US secondary sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on a visit to India this week, where he has met with Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. "During the talks, the two sides also exchanged views on a further expansion of ties in banking, energy, trade, insurance, shipping, use of national currencies, Chabahar projects and Chabahar-Zahedan railway," Zarif said in a statement.
The United States is already in dispute with India over its plans to buy the Russian S400 anti-aircraft missile system. According to Economic Times Daily, US House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said “There is a lot of concern in the US administration and Congress with the S-400,”. He urged the Indian government not to rush and carefully consider all potential consequences of purchasing advanced Russian weapons. “There is concern that any country that acquires the system will complicate the ability of interoperability (with US forces).”
“The acquisition of this technology will limit, I am afraid, the degree with which the United States will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology into whatever country we are talking about,” Thornberry said in a separate interview with NDTV.
Also under threat may be India’s hope for deal for domestic production of F-16 fighters jets as well as the purchase of US predator drones.
The issue is crucial to the success of the new US sanctions war on Iran where Iranian oil exports are the key target. India initially paid Iran via a Turkish bank before routing payments through a domestic financial institution the last time sanctions were in place. With China they also sought to get around the restrictions by trading oil with the Iran for local currencies and goods including wheat, soybean meal and consumer products.