The US diktat to all countries importing oil from Iran, including India, to stop these imports by November in enforcement of sanctions against the Iranians is a retrograde move that smacks of strong-arm tactics to isolate streams of Iranian funding.
Just as many earlier moves of US President Donald Trump, including the repudiation of the Paris climate deal and of the US-Iran nuclear deal, have evoked strong condemnation in the international community, some overt and some covert, this move too would raise the hackled in world capitals.
But Trump, a queer head of State of the world’s lone superpower is unfazed even as he moves on with his atrocious diplomacy that takes delight in rubbing other countries on the wrong side and in thumbing down agreements that his predecessor Barack Obama contributed to in high measure.
During 2011-2015, India had reduced its purchases of Iranian oil at some cost to its own development to receive from the US administration exemptions from sanctions. Subsequently, India increased oil purchases from Iran to nearly pre-2012 levels after sanctions were lifted, and in May 2016 New Delhi agreed to transfer to Iran about $6.5 billion that it owed for Iranian oil shipments but which was held up for payment due to sanctions.
Trump’s aides ruled out any exemption to India and Indian companies from its re-imposed Iranian sanctions regime for them carrying out any transaction with Iran. The earlier Obama regime had allowed India to import Iranian oil on an appeal from New Delhi. The current Trump stance underlines the difficulties of dealing with the US under Trump.
China, which is already facing a grim challenge in the shape of greatly enhanced US import duties on Chinese goods will also be severely affected if it is forced to stop oil imports from Iran.