India concerned that sanctions on Iran can impact energy security

Jul 05, 2010 02:00 AM

In an oblique reference to the US sanctions on Iran that also target foreign companies doing business with Tehran, India voiced its concern, saying such "unilateral sanctions" can have "a direct and adverse impact" on India's energy security.
Underlining the importance of Iran for India's energy security, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao pitched for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"India has always supported dialogue and avoidance of confrontation," Rao said at a seminar on "Strategic Dialogue on India and Iran".
"We are justifiably concerned that the extra-territorial nature of certain unilateral sanctions recently imposed by individual countries, with their restrictions on investment by third countries in Iran's energy sector, can have a direct and adverse impact on Indian companies, and more importantly, on our energy security and our attempts to meet the development needs of our people," Rao said.

Rao's comments have set a positive tone for the two-day meeting between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Iranian Finance Minister Shamsuddin Huseini.
This is the first time New Delhi has reacted since US recently imposed a new set of sanctions -- the toughest so far -- on Iran for allegedly defying international norms about its atomic programme, suspected of developing atomic weapons. US President Barack Obama signed a bill imposing harsh sanctions on Iran that includes cutting off Iran's access to refined petroleum imports, including gasoline and jet fuel and bans US banks from doing business with foreign banks that provide services to the Revolutionary Guards.

Rao reiterated that India supported Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the NPT framework and called for adopting "a flexible approach to achieve a comprehensive solution to all issues".
The US sanctions have the potential to affect a slew of Indian companies doing business with Tehran in the energysector, including Indian oil and gas companies that are doing business with Iran, including Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Oil India Limited (OIL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Petronet LNG. These companies were identified by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 23-page report in April.

Rao's stand on stiff sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, soon after the UN sanctions, is seen to be placatory towards Tehran that has nursed "hurt" at New Delhi for voting against its nuclear programme at the IAEA board of governors thrice over the last five years. Signalling India's resolve to continue with its economic and energy ties with Iran, home to third largest proven oil reserves and second largest gas reserves, in the face of the latest round of sanctions, Rao said: "Iran is a country extremely important to India from the perspective of energy security".
"India has repeatedly made clear the fact that accessing energy resources from all parts of the world isabsolutely critical to the continued growth of its economy and Iran has the potential to play an important role in this regard," said Rao.

Rao added that Iran has the potential of being "a transit country for supply of third country energy to India given its increasing links in this field with the landlocked countries of Central Asia" and mentioned the Iran-Pakistan-India; Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India and SAGE undersea pipeline projects in this connection.
Rao added that although India and Iran may have differences on one or the other issue, the areas of convergence far outweighed any differences and underscored the need for "structured, systematic and regular consultations" with Iran on defeating extremism in Afghanistan and in the region.

Source / IANS
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