Sanctions have turned into opportunity: Iran's defense chief

Iranian First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri

"... If India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the USA and others for the 10 per cent of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports which mean higher CAD (Current Account Deficit) and deprivation of all other privileges Iran has offered to India", Rahaghi said.

Rahaghi also criticised New Delhi for not fulfilling its promise to invest in the expansion of the strategically-located Chabahar port, The Hindu reported.

"Iran has always been a reliable energy partner for India and others, seeking a balanced oil market and rational prices of oil which ensure the interests of both countries as consumer and supplier", the embassy said in a statement.

While the USA wants all countries, India included, to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero, Washington's ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had said a fortnight ago that the Americans were open to working with New Delhi on Chabahar in view of its strategic importance, particularly with regard to Afghanistan. The port is India's gateway to trade with Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian countries and will allow it to bypass Pakistan, which has denied New Delhi transit access.

While most of the lead-up to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit this week in Brussels has centered around President Trump pushing military spending, and potentially being less hostile toward Russian Federation than the other nations prefer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Brussels with a mission focused heavily on Iran. "... India is trying to make Chabahar port in Iran operational by 2019... opening up of the Chabahar port would make the CIS countries more accessible", the shipping minister said.

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Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of 2017-18 fiscal). The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from the Gulf nation to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions.

Iran was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11 but western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme pushed it to the 7th spot in the subsequent years.

Jahangiri said Iran's foreign ministry and the central bank have taken measures to facilitate Iran's banking operations despite the USA sanctions. He warned such imports largely would be "sanctionable activity and we will enforce those sanctions".

India is also expected to convey to the United States the importance of the Chabahar port project considering that it can be a major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan. "So the U.S. must abandon its policy of resorting to threats or use of force", said Mr Rahaghi.

US President Donald Trump announced in early May the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal and the reinstatement of sanctions against the country, as well as against foreign companies who do business with it.

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