U.S. and India in Talks Over Stopping India's Oil Imports From Iran, Official Says

Iran has offered India extended credit terms and close to free shipping as the U.S. tries to encourage all partners to reduce to zero oil imports from the Islamic Republic

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, September 6, 2018.
Adnan Abidi/Reuters

The United States and India are engaged in “very detailed conversations” over Washington’s request to completely stop India’s oil imports from Iran, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump this year ordered the reimposition of economic curbs on Iran after withdrawing his country from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. The United States has since been trying to persuade countries to economically isolate Iran.

“We’re asking all of our partners, not just India, to reduce to zero oil imports from Iran and so I’m confident that will be part of our conversation with India,” the official told reporters, as the foreign and defense heads of the two countries met in the Indian capital.

“There are very detailed conversations taking place between the U.S. and India on just the technical issues related to going to zero and those conversations will continue.”

Despite Trump’s efforts, government officials in India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and Iran’s top oil client after China, have been talking about wanting to continue trade ties, especially for oil, with Iran.

Mike Pompeo and James Mattis with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi, India, September 6, 2018.
Adnan Abidi/Reuters

To lure Indian buyers, the Islamic nation has been offering extended credit terms and almost free shipping.

India would not stop Iranian imports but would finalize its strategy on crude buys after this week’s high-level meeting of U.S. state and defense secretaries, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, and India’s foreign and defense ministers, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, an Indian official told Reuters last month.

In another sign of New Delhi’s desire to keep buying Iranian oil, Reuters reported this week that India had allowed its state refiners to use Tehran’s tanker and insurance cover after western and Indian shippers started winding down their Iran operations ahead of a Nov. 4 deadline.

Nevertheless, India’s August oil imports from Iran plunged by a third as the state refiners waited for government permission to buy oil using Iranian tankers and cover.