Iran Comes Calling

External affairs minister Sushma Sawaraj with Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif in Delhi on Monday evening. Image Credit: MEA via Twitter

India has indicated it plans to continue doing business with Iran, notwithstanding American sanctions.

At a press conference on Monday, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said India recognized only UN sanctions and not ‘country-specific sanctions.’

‘When US had previously imposed sanctions on Iran, we had continued to do business,’ she said.

Swaraj’s words came just ahead of her meeting with Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif. He was in Delhi as part of a broader push by Iran to garner support in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It’s not known what the Indian side conveyed to Zarif in private, but the MEA’s statement remained guarded. ‘FM Zarif briefed about the discussions that Iran has undertaken with parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action following the US decision to withdraw from the Agreement,’ it said.

It added that Swaraj had added that ‘all parties to the Agreement should engage constructively for peaceful resolution of the issues that have arisen with respect to the Agreement.’

While India’s diplomats are undoubtedly dismayed at America’s attempt to scuttle the JCPOA, they have a difficult balancing act ahead, mollifying the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia while continuing to deal with Iran.

As this blog noted last week, Iran is India’s third largest crude oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Iran’s Chabahar port is also crucial to India’s plans for overland connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia.

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