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Iran pushes India to disregard US sanctions by saying, “Follow Russia model, resume oil purchases.”

On the fringes of the SCO Summit, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a private discussion. Iran is likely to bring up India's purchase of Russian oil in spite of sanctions.

New Delhi: ThePrint has learned that Iran has asked India to begin buying its oil, “disregarding unilateral” sanctions imposed by the US, similar to what New Delhi has done with Russian energy by dodging western sanctions following the Russia-Ukraine war.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is anticipated to bring up the subject during a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of the Heads of State meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, officials involved in the matter told ThePrint.

In addition to Modi, Raisi, and all Central Asian leaders, the SCO Summit, which is planned to take place from September 15 to 16, will also be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Since May 2019, when the former Donald Trump administration imposed severe sanctions on Iran, India has stopped purchasing oil from that nation. This action was unprecedented. India was, behind China, the second-largest purchaser of Iranian oil prior to the imposition of the sanctions.

Officials claim that India was forced to take this action at the time by US pressure because Washington had imposed a number of strict sanctions on Iran at the same time as the Trump administration had withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear Deal, also known as the JCPOA.

However, India has persisted in purchasing oil from Russia despite comparable and, in some circumstances, even more severe sanctions imposed on Moscow as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict by the US and Europe.

In reality, since April 2022, India’s purchases of oil from Russia have multiplied by 50, making Russia one of India’s top 10 oil suppliers.

In spite of India ceasing to purchase oil from Iran, Iranian authorities claim that US sanctions are “unilateral” and not UN-led.

The sources advised New Delhi to adopt the same strategy for Tehran as well now that India had developed a way to get through the restrictions placed on Russia.

When Ali Chegeni, Iran’s departing ambassador to India, met with representatives from the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar last week.

When Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited India in June 2022 and called on Prime Minister Modi in addition to meeting Jaishankar, issues pertaining to the resume of oil from Iran were also extensively discussed.

In a speech he gave to a European research tank in June, Jaishankar questioned why the US had not lifted its sanctions on Iranian oil.

After President Raisi was elected in June 2021 to succeed previous President Hassan Rouhani, Jaishankar was among the first foreign dignitaries to meet the hardliner.

Railroad in Chabahar Port
In addition to oil, Raisi is anticipated to bring up the problem of India’s “poor progress” in the Chabahar Port project which is about 200 km, particularly in regards to building the final section of the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project, which is now under construction.

Once finished, the railroad should allow for quicker connectivity between Iran’s Chabahar Port and Afghanistan and Central Asia. Additionally, it is anticipated to improve the current road connectivity between Afghanistan and the Chabahar port.

Both Raisi and Modi are anticipated to reach an agreement about the port’s Shahid Beheshti Terminal’s long-term operations during their meeting.

The contract signing has been under consideration for a while now. It has been stalled on whether arbitration should be used if there is a disagreement between the parties.

According to the officials, the Iranian Constitution stipulates that disputes must be resolved only through Iranian courts and cannot be brought before any international tribunals. Since changing the Constitution is virtually impossible under Iranian law, both parties are now debating how to address issue.

In August, Ali Akbar Safaee, Deputy Minister and Managing Director of Ports and Maritime Organization, and Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, met in Iran to examine the status of the Shahid Behesti Terminal.

Sonowal also presented six movable harbour cranes to Indian Ports Global Chabahar Free Trade Zone (IPGCFTZ) at the port during his visit last month. A joint technical committee for the efficient operation of the port was also consented upon by both parties.

India continues to remain interested in the railroad project as per the MoU inked between India and Iran in 2016, according to V. Muraledharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, who spoke before Parliament in February of this year.


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