India Says It Will Ignore Unilateral US Sanctions On Iran

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India does not intend to restrict its trade with Iran despite Washington’s renewed sanctions on Tehran, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said Monday.

When asked if India will recognize sanctions President Donald Trump’s administration imposed after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, Swaraj said India’s policy was not to honor punitive measures taken by a single foreign government.

“India follows only U.N. sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country,” she told reporters, according to Reuters.

A key U.S. ally in South Asia, India also has close economic ties to Iran and is one of the world’s top importers of Iranian oil. India was not a signatory to the 2015 nuclear accord, but Indian officials have joined their European counterparts in seeking ways to maintain lucrative trade relationships with Tehran in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. (RELATED: Europe Seeks Ways To Shield Its Companies From US Sanctions — And Keep Money Flowing To Iran)

Like many European countries, India benefited economically from the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Two-way trade between India and Iran surpassed $13 billion in fiscal year 2017, according to India’s ministry of commerce. That figure is dwarfed by the roughly $67 billion in bilateral trade between India and the U.S.

India has continued to trade with Iran during previous periods of U.S. sanctions, but it reduced Iranian oil imports after the U.N. passed sanctions in 2006 that blocked banking channels and cut off insurance coverage for oil tankers.

When it announced the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal earlier in May, the Trump administration said it would not hesitate to penalize overseas firms that continue to do business in Iran. Already, several major European companies have suspended or begun to wind down their operations in Iran, citing fears of U.S. secondary sanctions.

India, however, does not intend to follow suit, according to Swaraj.

“We don’t make our foreign policy under pressure from other countries,” she said, adding that India only honors multilateral sanctions passed through the U.N.

“We believe in U.N. sanctions, but not in country-specific sanctions,” she added.

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