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India rejects US sanctions on Iran, says Reddy

New Delhi: India will continue to explore “options” to make payments for crude oil it imports from Iran as it will only abide by UN sanctions and not those imposed by any bloc of countries, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said today.

Rejecting US sanctions that deny access to the US financial system to any foreign bank that conducts business with the central bank of Iran, he said, “There are other sanctions imposed by blocs of countries, we have some freedom in the matter.”

US President Barack Obama on December 31 signed into law such measures. Besides this, European Union foreign ministers on Monday agreed to ban oil imports from Iran starting July 1 as part of measures to ratchet up the pressure on the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear programme. Reddy, however, added, “We will scrupulously adhere to the sanctions imposed by the UN. No less, no more.”

The Oil Minister further said, “We will continue to explore various options of payment to Iran. As of now, supplies are on and Iran has been very positive and we are still optimistic,” although he declined to list out the available options.

A multi-disciplinary India team had visited Tehran last week to discuss options for payment of its USD 12 billion a year crude bill. Reddy, however, declined to comment on the negotiations held by India with Iran.

“We cannot disclose such things. We are determined to utilise the option of Iran and Iran has shown lot of understanding and goodwill,” he said.

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