A fascinating display of diplomatic balancing occurred this past week in New Delhi. At the same time that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in India to urge the Indian government to tighten sanctions on Iran, an Iranian trade delegation was there exploring ways to circumvent those very sanctions.
Over the past year, India has found creative ways to “split the middle” in attempting to maintain good relations with both Washington and Tehran. State-owned refineries have reduced the amount of oil they purchase from Iran, in an effort to bring India into compliance with U.S. legislation that calls for financial sanctions against countries that do not do so. Indeed, India cut its purchases from Iran by 34 percent in April.
But while government-controlled entities are slowing down their purchases from the Islamic Republic, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister S. Jaipal Reddy denied that U.S. pressure is affecting Indian decision-making. Reddy noted that the government is not going to mandate or regulate where energy companies in India get their oil, stating, “It is for the companies to take a decision.”