India is once again among a small list of nations that qualifies for an exception from unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington on nations importing oil from Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week.
In a formal notification regarding sanctions outlined in Section 1245 of the U.S.’ 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), Mr. Kerry said that the exception granted to India, along with China, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan, was based on New Delhi’s “additional significant reductions in the volume of their purchases of Iranian crude oil.”
Last week a major breakthrough in negotiations between western nations and Teheran on limiting Iran’s nuclear programme was achieved, after a lengthy imposition of crippling sanctions, including multilateral measures authorised by the United Nations as well as unilateral restrictions imposed by the Obama administration.
In June 2012, on the eve of the bilateral Strategic Dialogue, erstwhile U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted India a similar exception from the sanctions that kicked in the following month.
During the months of negotiations leading to that exception it was made clear to The Hindu that India would not explicitly make any application for a sanctions exemption from the U.S., although “whether private companies engaged in the oil trade with Iran independently start reducing their volumes is another question.”
As it turned out several companies engaged in importing Iranian oil at the time were in any case said to be facing constraints on their business volume “given the broader sanctions against Iranian central bank and other financial institutions, and the knock-on effect that that has in terms of payment instruments.”
This week Mr. Kerry said that U.S. President Barack Obama had made it clear that Washington would “continue to vigorously implement our existing sanctions on Iran as the P5+1 seeks to negotiate a comprehensive deal with Iran that will resolve the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Underscoring the U.S. belief that the sanctions had brought the regime of recently-elected Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to the negotiating table the Secretary said that as part of the Joint Action Plan agreed by the P5+1 nations and Iran, “We will pause for six months our efforts to further reduce Iran's crude oil sales.”
He however cautioned that this plan did not offer relief from sanctions with respect to any increases in Iranian crude oil purchases by existing customers or any purchases by new customers, and “We will continue to aggressively enforce our sanctions over the next six months.”
His notification came even as Mr. Obama said via a White House notification, “There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions.”
This would be the fourth instance of India qualifying for an NDAA exception as a result of its “continued significant reductions in the volume of crude oil purchases from Iran,” the Secretary noted.