London, 14 Oct – According to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, India has decided to continue buying Iranian oil, and to purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, just days after President Trump warned that New Delhi may be facing punitive measures. Responding to questions on reports that India will continue to purchase oil from Iran after November 4th, Nauert said this was “not helpful”.
Following Trump’s decision to exit the 2015 multilateral deal that eased global sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s suspected nuclear programmes and malign activities, the US seeks to reduce Iran’s oil imports to zero by the November 4th deadline.
On Monday, India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that two state refiners have placed orders for importing crude oil from Iran in November.
“Overall with regard to those sanctions that will take effect on November 4th — and you’re referring to the oil sanctions for Iran and countries that choose to continue purchasing oil from Iran — we have conversations with many partners and allies around the world about those sanctions,” Nauert said on Thursday, adding, “We make our policies very clear to those countries. We continue to have conversations with the government of Iraq about that particular issue and the implications for the reimposition of sanctions that were previously lifted or even waived under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
Trump has said that the US is committed to re-enforcing all of its sanctions. Nauert agreed, saying, “We believe that countries coming together and recognizing the malign influence that Iran has had around the world is important. We know that Iran and the government of Iran has taken the benefits that it received under the JCPOA and they’ve poured that money not into their own population, not into the good of the people, not into its medical hospitals and things of that nature, but rather they’ve used it for its own nefarious programmes.”
She said that reports of India continuing to buy oil from Iran after November 4th was a topic of the conversation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with the Indian government when he was in India last month for the first 2+2 Dialogue.
“The President had addressed it — I believe it was just earlier today — which he was asked about that question about whether or not India would buy oil from Iran after sanctions are reimposed. And the President said – and I’m not going to get ahead of the President, certainly – but he said we’ll take care of that,” she said.
Nauert said, regarding the implication of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA on India, after it signed the $5 billion deal with Russia to purchase the S-400 Triumf air defence system, “He (the president) was asked also about CAATSA sanctions and possible imposition of CAATSA sanctions. And he said, you know, India is going to find out. And India will find out. We’ll see. So I’m not going to get ahead of him, but certainly, when we hear about things such as purchasing oil or the S-400 systems, it’s not helpful. The United States government just reviews that very carefully,” Nauert said.
CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.