India says it will continue trading with Iran

India's Foreign Minister says her country will continue trading with Iran despite possible fallout from U.S. sanctions.

Ben Ariel,

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Flag of India

India will continue trading with Iran and Venezuela despite the threat of fallout from U.S. sanctions against the two countries, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday, according to Middle East Eye.

Asked at a news conference whether American action against Iran and Venezuela would damage India, Swaraj said the country would not make foreign policy "under pressure."

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that he would pull out of the Iran deal and would reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic that were frozen as part of the agreement.

Last week, the Treasury imposed sanctions on five Iranians who are linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Those sanctions came after the United States had imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank governor and an Iraq-based bank for “moving millions of dollars” for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

Prior to that, the Treasury imposed sanctions against six individuals and three companies it said were funneling millions of dollars to the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

Swaraj said New Delhi's position was independent of any other country, stressing, "India follows only UN sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country.”

India and Iran have long-standing political and economic ties, with Iran one of India's top oil suppliers.

Bilateral trade between India and Iran amounted to $12.9 billion in 2016-17. India imported $10.5 billion worth of goods, mainly crude oil, and exported commodities worth $2.4 billion during that same time period.

India has other interests in Iran, in particular a commitment to build the port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, according to Middle East Eye.

Swaraj met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New Delhi on Monday just weeks after the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear accord.

"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," said an Indian government spokesperson in a statement, without elaborating further.

India continued to trade with Iran throughout previous sanction periods, but was forced to cut oil imports as sanctions choked off banking channels and insurance cover for tankers.