India on Monday expressed its disapproval of “unilateral sanctions” by individual countries that restrict investments by third countries in Iran's energy sector.
“We are justifiably concerned that the extra-territorial nature of certain unilateral sanctions recently imposed by individual countries, with their restrictions on investment by third countries in Iran's energy sector, can have a direct and adverse impact on Indian companies and more importantly, on our energy security and our attempts to meet the development needs of our people,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao observed while addressing members of Indian and Iranian think tanks.
India's reservations about the United States' keenness to implement some of its sanctions against Iran comes days after Washington appointed Robert Einhorn as its new ‘co-ordinator' for implementing the sanctions.
The European Union is meeting later this month to sketch out its plans for sanctions against Iran in the light of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (fourth round) that was voted against by Turkey and Brazil.
Maintaining that the International Atomic Energy Agency provided the best framework to resolve questions about Iran's nuclear programme, Ms. Rao pointed out that India's approach to Iran was “embedded within the rationale” that defines its foreign policy — just as the ‘Look East' policy has propelled India's relations with the countries of ASEAN and East Asia.
Tehran was important not only because it had large energy reserves, although this aspect was significant because India expects its energy needs to grow by eight to ten per cent in the coming years and Iran, the nearest source, has the world's third largest proven oil reserves and second largest gas reserves.
The Foreign Secretary identified maritime security as another potential area of cooperation and welcomed Iran's decision to join the Indian Navy's confidence building initiative — the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. Iran was also crucial in resolving the Afghanistan issue.
Ms. Rao hoped that the upcoming India-Iran Joint Commission meeting would instil fresh momentum in their bilateral relations — especially the long-pending dialogue on energy and trade corridors in Central Asia and greater cooperation and information sharing on counter-terrorism.