India, US have goal of denying Iran money it needs to destabilise Middle East: Official


Washington: The US and India have a goal of denying Iran the money it needs to destabilise the Middle East, a top American official said after his visit to New Delhi for talks over slashing India’s oil imports from Tehran ahead of the November 4 deadline.

President Donald Trump in May pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear accord, saying it had “failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb” and did not deal with Tehran’s “malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism”.

In an attempt to compel Iran to agree to a new accord, Trump reinstated sanctions that targeted the Iranian government’s purchase of US dollars, Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, and its automotive sector. Describing the meetings with the Indian officials on the Iranian oil purchase issue as good, the special US envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, however, refrained from giving details of his discussions. “On the India meetings, I also met with the Indian delegation to the UN during, I mean in New York during the UN General Assembly. I continued those discussions in Delhi, very good meetings. And I can’t get into specifics in terms of the nature of that discussion,” Hook told reporters in Brussels. “But what I can say is we are, we do have a goal of denying Iran the money that it needs, and we find that there’s a lot, I mean, to kind of destabilise the Middle East,” he said in response to a question.

On November 4, the second batch of potentially more crippling sanctions will be re-imposed on Iran’s oil and shipping sectors as well as its central bank. The US has asked buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero starting in November. India last week said it would continue to import oil from Iran after the November 4 deadline. “We continue to find that many countries including India share our concerns, especially the non-proliferation concerns. And the sunset clauses for the United States are of paramount concern, and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Hook said.

In public policy, a sunset provision or clause is a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. The top American envoy opposed the creation of a special purpose vehicle by the Europeans for the oil purchase so as to avoid US sanctions. “With respect to the Special Purpose Vehicle, Secretary of State Pompeo said that that vehicle sends the wrong message at the wrong time. We believe that the US and the EU should be working together to find enduring solutions that truly support the Iranian people, he said. The Trump Administration is working with countries on a case by case basis to ensure that their purchase of oil from Iran comes down to zero as soon as possible, he said. “Our sanctions will go into effect on November 5, and this round of sanctions includes sanctions on Iran’s energy sector and foreign financial transactions with the Central Bank of Iran,” Hook said.

Ahead of the November 4 deadline, teams from Treasury and State departments have visited more than two dozen countries educating companies about the dangers of doing business with Iran, the reputational risk they incur by doing business with Iran, he said. These countries and entities, he said, are deciding that the risk is simply not worth the investment.

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