After the U.S. announced in May that it was ending sanctions waivers for countries to purchase oil from Iran, India, like many other major oil-importing countries, has been forced to diversify its suppliers. U.S. sanctions have also affected other aspects of India’s economic ties with Iran, making the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Tehran a significant irritant in U.S.-India relations. In an email interview with WPR, Harsh V. Pant, a professor of international relations at King’s College London and director of studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, explains how the Trump administration’s hard line is forcing New Delhi to reassess not just its ties with Iran but “the three poles” of its Middle East policy.
World Politics Review: How have India’s energy ties with Iran changed as a result of the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran?
Harsh V. Pant: Until May, India was the second-largest buyer of crude oil from Iran, after China. But after the U.S. ended its sanctions waiver, which had allowed India to import Iranian crude oil, India’s energy ties with Iran have undergone a change. Tehran had previously attracted Indian buyers with lucrative provisions such as free shipping and extended credit, but Washington’s diktat to cease oil imports from Iran has led New Delhi to change its calculus and comply with the Trump administration’s demands.