The Iranian government signaled it would be open to talking to the United States about a new nuclear arms accord if Washington changes its approach to discussing the agreement it abandoned this year. The United States snapped sanctions back in place to choke Iran’s oil and shipping industries, while temporarily allowing top customers such as India, Japan and China to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic. Having abandoned a 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump is trying to cripple Iran’s oil-dependent economy and force Tehran to quash not only its missile and nuclear programmes, but also diminish its influence in the Middle East.
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would continue to sell its oil despite Washington’s “economic war”. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said US “bullying” was backfiring by making Washington more isolated.
While India and Iran have put systems in place to continue their trade in crude oil, with India winning a temporary waiver from the US.
The sanctions inhibit global fleet owners and insurers from dealing with Iran crude shipments for fear of incurring the wrath of the US. Lack of ship and cargo insurance will hurt imports from Iran, India’s third-biggest supplier after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. To bypass this hurdle, India’s Shipping Ministry has amended a key shipping rule mandated by the government for crude purchases by state-run oil refiners. The Ministry has also granted permission till February 2020 for two Iranian ship underwriters – Kish P&I Club and QITA P&I Club – to provide cover to Iran tankers bringing crude to the country with a liability limit equivalent to the one extended by a London-based global insurance group. This is expected to help continue oil supplies from the sanctions-hit country.
India will pay Iran for the crude purchases in rupees, which that country will use to import goods from India.
The revenue from Iranian oil purchased through waivers will sit in foreign accounts and can only be used by Iran to purchase humanitarian goods and non-sanctioned items.