The foreign and defence minister of India and the US are meeting in New Delhi on Thursday under the 2+2 dialogue to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.
According to sources, at the meeting India will put a resolution that it would not be able to cut oil imports from Iran after sanctions take effect early November and hopes to sensitise Washington to the issues faced by the country in this regard, while making it clear that no nation can dictate how its external policy can be run.
India’s refineries are heavily dependent on supplies from overseas, including Iran, and giving up this cheaper option will be tough when retail prices of fuels are at an all time high in the country, according to people familiar with the plan.
An official from External Affairs ministry said, “We want to make the point that India is heavily reliant on oil imports for its consumption needs and 83 per cent of its oil comes from external sources.”
Some of the US sanctions on Iran took effect early August, while others, mainly related to the petroleum sector, will kick of after November 4.
The US is willing to offer a waiver to countries that make a significant reduction in imports. Without this exemption countries dealing with Iran after the deadline will risk getting cut off from the US financial system.
India has been seeking a waiver from the US, although it is unwilling to reduce imports anytime soon.
A source from the Oil and Petroleum ministry opined that India will not cut import of Iranian oil. If there is some import reduction after November 4, that would be purely due to logistics or operational hurdles, such as lack of tankers or insurance.
A data revealed that India imports a tenth of its crude oil from Iran, and is also the biggest buyer of crude from the Islamic Republic after China.
Moreover, there is also the problem of making technical adjustment to refineries if new form of crude oils is imported as it would require time, effort and resources.