Obama administration is in a fix over fears of India running afoul on the sanctions imposed by the States upon excessive oil imports from Iran, of which India is 3rd largest in the world.
Too blunt for their own good?
The issue of sanctioning India over oil imports from Iran has already opened a Pandora’s Box for the President as he has limited leeway to grant exemptions under the law, and so far, India also hasn’t demonstrated reductions.
With an imminent worry of weakening ties with its most important ally already doing the rounds in the White House, the administration is finding it hard to impose sanctions without annoying its biggest service sector outsourcer.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a U.S. official said, “If India fails to sufficiently cut Iranian imports, Obama may be compelled to bar access to the U.S. banking system for any Indian bank processing oil payments through Iran's central bank.”
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington said,“There’s no reason why India should be given a free pass as the EU, Japan and others significantly reduce the scale and scope of their Iranian trade.No country should be confident that it will not be the target of U.S. sanctions.”
An irritant at best
This provoked instant retaliations from the Indian side, with Indian Embassy slamming the pro-Israeli lobby and the U.S. media for projecting a distorted picture of New Delhi’s foreign policy objectives and energy security needs.
“India’s relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with non-proliferation objectives, nor do we seek to contradict the relationships we have with our friends in West Asia or with the US and Europe,” said the Indian Embassy in Washington.
Also brought to table was case of Iran being the only viable passage through which it had access to Afghanistan, a country it had been playing an extensive role in reconstructing.
Harsh V. Pant, a specialist on India and Iran, also sounded optimistic on these developments. “It’s highly unlikely that the U.S. would sanction India on this issue. The Iran issue is an irritant at best.”
Also highlighted was the dubiousness of the statements made on the part of White House officials, wherein they had not made clear what exactly would be a ‘significant’ cut on oil imports to escape sanctions.