Germany’s minister of state for foreign affairs has encouraged India to continue buying Iranian oil, despite pressure from the United States, which Niels Annen called “irritating, to put it mildly.”
“I am not a salesman for Iran but I have an impression that India is willing to continue buying oil from Iran and this will be a very important statement,” Annen told Indian media, as quoted by Sputnik, also noting that whatever New Delhi decided, it would be a sovereign decision.
India is Iran’s top oil client, and it is also one of the countries that are most heavily dependent on oil imports.
This means that the consequences of U.S. sanctions on Tehran will spread to India, which already has a problem with too high international oil prices.
India is a strong U.S. ally in Asia, but it has also been building better relations with Tehran, which puts it in a sensitive position.
In May, when President Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, India’s Foreign Minister said that India will continue importing Iranian crude despite U.S. sanctions, adding that that India only honors sanctions imposed by the United Nations, but not ones introduced by individual countries.
Nevertheless, Iranian crude oil imports into India fell by 15.9 percent in June from May, or to 592,800 bpd from more than 705,000 bpd in the previous month. The drop suggests that despite its initially tough stance on U.S. sanctions, Indian refiners have started changing their mind as the November 4 deadline to wind down business relations with Iran draws nearer.
An Iranian official from the embassy in New Delhi then threatened India that it might lose its “special privileges” if it stops buying Iranian crude in November. Other Tehran officials were quick to call the threat a misquote, and went on to assure India that Iran will continue to ensure a stable supply of crude for its regional partner.