Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Accusing the US of indulging in “terrorist acts” by imposing economic sanctions on Tehran and other nations, Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni on Tuesday expressed the hope that its “old friend” India would resume import of Iranian oil. He also claimed that many countries were purchasing oil from Iran both officially and unofficially.
While talking to scribes after the opening of an exhibition of Iranian arts and handicrafts here, the new Iranian envoy asserted that Tehran can act as a “protector” of India’s energy security. He lambasted the US for sanctions saying the oil issue will not affect Tehran-New Delhi relations as these are based on history.
“We think India is under pressure, but we believe India is a friend of Iran. India’s relations with other countries do not affect us. Our relations with India are based on history; it is based on long-term mutual benefit and interest. We understand India will act according to its national interests. “
He said probably the oil import might have been stopped but Iran had not got any “negative signal” from India that they would do so in future
India cut off oil imports from Iran after the US ended on May 2 a six-month waiver that had allowed the top buyers India China, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, and South Korea to continue importing oil from Iran. The US imposed sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year.
The envoy made it clear that Tehran was not deciding on behalf of New Delhi.
“We are not deciding on behalf of the Indian government and we respect all their decisions, but we expect a friend… (to place orders for oil) in future… Iran is ready to be the biggest protector of India’s energy security.”
He also alluded to the possibility of using barter, rupee and European mechanisms for trade in oil with India and other countries to circumvent the US sanctions.
His remarks assume significance, as they come days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had assured India that America is “doing everything” to ensure crude oil imports to New Delhi in the wake of the situation arising out of sanctions on importing oil from Iran.
While referring to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remarks at the joint press interaction with Mr Pompeo in New Delhi last week, the Iranian envoy said that Tehran can provide “affordability, accessibility and security” of energy to New Delhi.
“If Mr Jaishankar asked affordability, accessibility and security of energy, Iran is the only country that can provide all these aspects of energy for India. We expect from a friend… that we understand each other, follow our national interest and Iran is ready for being the protector of energy security of India.”
In response to another question that New Delhi is making up its oil needs from Saudi Arabia and the US?, the envoy quipped that Iran does not force its consumers and India will decide for itself.
He claimed that many countries were buying oil from Iran but he did not reveal their names.
“Our oil is sold, destinations are secret,” he asserted.
The envoy also hoped that India’s trade relationship with Iran will continue to expand. “Up to April, our bilateral trade between the two countries was $18 billion, while in previous years it was 13.7 billion,” he said and adding that Iran’s Pasargad Bank had got all its clearances and will open a branch in Mumbai soon.
US sanctions impact on the Chabahar port project, Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni said it is indirectly affecting as US actions had created uncertainty in the minds of investors and bankers.
“They (US) are saying Chabahar is not under sanctions, but the banks don’t dare to come, the private companies say the future is not clear for them. Somehow this is a sanction.”
Meanwhile, 4–day exhibition started at the Indira Gandhi National Arts and Cultural Center (IGNAC) here showcasing many aspects of Iran’s rich cultural heritage.
Speaking to Caravan Daily, Iran Cultural House Director Dr. Ali Dehgahi said Iran and India’s ties are very old and both countries enriched each other’s culture and arts. The exhibition is jointly organized by the Iran Culture House and IGNAC. We are focusing on handicrafts and other forms of arts like calligraphy, pottery, coppersmithery, miniature paintings, and enameling etc., he said.