Iran sanctions: Why India is in a tight spot
India is Iran's largest customer of crude oil, so it cannot cut off ties with the Iranian regime quickly. Yet it shares US concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
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The US government seems to recognize that India cannot simply shut off the flow of Iranian oil, but White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday that the US expects its allies to keep the pressure up on Iran.Skip to next paragraph
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"I think that we have made clear to all of our allies and partners around the world about the importance of isolating the regime and Tehran and putting pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions," Mr. Carney was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying, "and that includes, obviously, India as well as many other nations."
Congress has also expressed concern. Reps. Steve Israel and Richard Hanna sent a letter to India's ambassador to the US urging India to rethink its plans to send a trade delegation to Iran, writing that "now is not the time" to expand business ties.
US and European Union sanctions against Iran have already driven up the price of oil, a fact that will be felt at fuel pumps around the world. On Wednesday afternoon, the price of a barrel of Brent crude was selling for $118, the highest price since August 1.
US sanctions against the use of US dollars to pay for Iranian oil have put India in a tough spot. In October, India imported nearly no Iranian oil, because it could come up with no mechanism to pay for it. Last month, Iran agreed to accept partial payment for oil deliveries in Indian rupees, and the oil started flowing again.
Meanwhile, Indian investigators continue to gather clues to the attempted assassination of an Israeli diplomat on Feb. 13 in New Delhi. According to press reports from India, a motorcyclist rode up alongside the car of Israeli embassy staffer Tal Yehoshua-Koren and attached a magnetic “sticky bomb” to the vehicle. The blast left Ms. Yehoshua-Koren injured. Indian and Israeli bomb experts are apparently coordinating a joint investigation.
“We have no information or evidence of any country, organization, entity and individual being involved,” said Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, in answer to questions of Iran’s possible involvement in the blast.
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