During the past several weeks, there have been several stories about India’s import of Iranian crude oil carried by the media, many of which have presented a distorted picture by basing their conclusions on speculation and inaccurate information. These stories have in turn generated concerns here, including among some Members of the U.S. Congress.
Against this backdrop, we believe that it is important that the position of the Government of India and India’s policy towards Iran is adequately understood.
India’s relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with non-proliferation objectives, nor do we seek to contradict the relationships we have with our friends in West Asia or with the United States and Europe.
India has consistently said that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA to address and resolve all outstanding issues about its nuclear program, issues that continue to raise understandable doubts in the minds of the international community. India believes that while Iran has rights to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it must simultaneously and rigorously fulfill the treaty obligations which it has acceded to. Our stand in this regard has been, and remains, consistent, well-enunciated including in the IAEA, and perfectly clear.
India has scrupulously adhered to the multilateral sanctions against Iran as mandated by the United Nations, and remains fully engaged with the United States Administration and Congress on this issue.
To provide perspective, it may be added that the linkages between the Indian and Iranian people are civilizational. Iran is also India’s only corridor for land access to Afghanistan, through which is routed most of our development and reconstruction assistance to that country – a historic mission to assist Afghanistan, in which India and the United States share a deep convergence of interests.
Unfortunately, though, a series of recent media reports have presented a picture which not only distorts India’s foreign policy objectives and energy security needs, but also creates misunderstanding about its actions. These reports overlook the imperative of India’s dependence on oil imports from Iran to serve the energy needs of its people, more than 400 million of whom do not as yet have access to commercial energy. Allusions in the media that India’s overall oil imports from Iran are increasing just because its monthly uptake of Iranian oil reportedly increased in January this year are based on selective use of information, misrepresenting the fact that in aggregate terms, crude imports from Iran constitute a declining share of India’s oil imports. Nonetheless, given the imperative of meeting the energy needs of millions of Indians, an automatic replacement of all Iranian oil imports, is not a simple matter of selection, or a realistic option.
As a responsible member of the international community, India takes its obligations most seriously. At the same time, it firmly believes that the situation concerning Iran should not be allowed to escalate into a conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in nobody’s interest. As a country that has six million of its nationals in the Gulf region, India is naturally concerned and urges all it partners to give diplomacy a fair chance to seek a peaceful resolution of the issues involved.
India’s relationship with the United States is built on shared values and converging interests. It is based on our fundamental belief that we have mutually beneficial stakes in each other’s success. Indeed, in India, we attach crucial importance to our strategic partnership with the United States both for advancing global peace, stability and progress, as well as in the pursuit of India’s national development goals. The bipartisan encouragement and support that the India-U.S. strategic partnership has received in the U.S. Congress is a source of immense strength and abiding inspiration for us. We remain confident that this partnership will only grow stronger in the times ahead.