Days after Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, told NDTV that India should “rethink its relationship with Iran” top sources said there is no doubt the US is putting pressure on India and New Delhi “will explain its case to the Americans”. “Ultimately, India has to see its national interest”, said sources familiar with the developments.
In her interview to NDTV last week, Ms Haley said she had a “constructive conversation” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which India was encouraged to “rethink their relationship with Iran”.
“I think as a friend, India should also decide is this a country that they want to continue doing business with… we did encourage India to start looking at who they do business with and whether that’s a country that they can depend on in the future,” she had said. “For the future of India, the future of being able to get resources and who they’re dependent on, I think we would encourage them to rethink their relationship with Iran”.
Sources say the US is expected to engage with several countries within the next month on the Iran issue, including India. Washington is stepping up pressure on all nations to completely stop buying oil from Iran as part of its plan to reduce Tehran’s oil revenue to zero.
“Iran is an important neighbour for us,” the sources said today, adding, “India is, unfortunately, an oil dependent economy, so we have to also see if we can find alternative sources of oil”.
The sources denied reports that India had agreed to cut down oil imports from Iran. They also referred to an interview by a senior State Department official, Brian Hook, this week who had said the US was willing to “work with countries that are ready to reduce imports in a case by case basis”.
The US sanctions against Iran comes after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers in an effort to stall Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.
The US asked nations to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November 4, when sanctions on Iran’s banking also kicks in.
The first part of the sanctions begins on August 6, under which there will be a clampdown on the automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals.