The sanctions being imposed by the US against Iran’s Central Bank made it difficult for Iran’s oil customers to buy oil from the Iranian government. However some countries were given sanctions relief by the US. One of them was India. Despite a terrorist attack in Delhi which Iran was accused of, India continued to purchase oil from Tehran for its growing economy.
But India has now decided to fall in line with the sanctions being imposed by the US. According to Reuters it is set to halt Iran oil imports over insurance.
This is a major blow for the Iranian regime.
There are various reasons why India has taken this recent step.
I found one of them, presented by Tanvi Madan, director of the Brookings Institution’s India Project quite interesting:
“India, which has perhaps the third-largest population of Shi’ite Muslims on earth, fears potential spillover from sectarian tension in the Middle East, as well as the domino-effect like spread of nuclear weapons in the region.”
The fact that India is taking its own Shiites into consideration adds another very interesting angle to this story.
One has to ask what has made the Indians so concerned about its own Shiites? As far as we know they have not been involved in terrorism in India.
Could this fear be more to do with Saudi and Persian Gulf lobbying in New Delhi?
We can not rule this out. After all, the aforementioned countries benefit from the sanctions. They get to weaken the Iranian regime’s economy while stealing India as a customer away from Iran.
For now, don’t expect Ayatollah Khamenei to lose much sleep. He seems to be under the impression that the US and EU will lift the sanctions within a year or two, because they can’t live without Iran’s oil much longer than that.
Israel is not the regime’s biggest enemy. Bad advisers in the Office of the Supreme Leader are just as detrimental.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator has started a three day visit to India. According to Trend News, the visit takes place at the invitation of India’s National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon.
India is one of the few countries that has received sanctions waivers from the US, thus allowing it to continue purchasing oil from Iran.
Iran has tried hard to bring the Indian government to its side. At the recent Non Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Tehran, India had one of the largest delegations. This was seen as a positive sign by the Iranian government. Most likely, Iran will try to convince India to lobby western countries to remove sanctions against it. It’s also very possible that Iran will try to bring India to its side in the nuclear dispute with the West.
However Iran is unlikely to succeed for a number of reasons.
First and foremost India’s relations with the West, especially the U.S are more important economically and strategically than its relations with the Iranian regime.
Secondly, sanctions against Iran have created a lucrative business opportunity for India. Because of the sanctions, India can’t pay Iran in dollars for its oil. As a result, the two countries have arranged a barter deal upon which instead of dollars, India pays Iran with Indian rice, medicine and steel.
Such a barter deal is lucrative for India as it gets to sell products to Iran which Iran could have bought from India’s competitors elsewhere, but now has no choice but to buy from India. Iran has to buy such products from India, even if in some cases the quality is bad. As its bargaining position has been weakened due to the sanctions, it won’t have much power to negotiate a better deal. The same has happened to China. Due to the sanctions and Iran’s isolation, Chinese companies have sold many low quality products to Iran knowing full well that Iran has little choice but to buy them.
Therefore its very unlikely that Iran will find India doing much to remove the sanctions against Iran. The same applies to China. Both are doing very well from the current sanctions against the regime.