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India defies US sanctions pressure; allows state refiners to use Iran tankers

By Deepika

New Delhi, Sep 3: India is allowing state refiners to import Iranian oil with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance after firms including the country's top hipper Shipping Corp of India (SCI) halted voyages to Iran due to US sanctions, reports said.

File photo of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The attempt to keep Iranian oil flowing mirrors a step by China, where buyers are shifting nearly all their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC), reported news agency Reuters quoting sources.

The moves by the two top buyers of Iranian crude indicate that the Islamic Republic may not be fully cut off from global oil markets from November, when US sanctions against Tehran's petroleum sector are due to start, it said.

US President Donald Trump this month exited from the Iran nuclear deal and sought the reimposition of economic sanctions against Tehran that were suspended under a 2015 agreement.

No one trading with Iran will do business with America, he said.

The Trump administration has also threatened to impose 'secondary sanctions' on the countries which will not follow its diktat on oil import embargo. The secondary sanction could be in various forms but the most throbbing would be being blocked from American financial System which no country could afford.

India is the second largest buyer of petroleum from Iran after China, and Iran is the third largest supplier to India after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

New Delhi was not happy with the Trump administration's decision pull out of the Iran nuclear deal last month and its announcement that sanctions will be back in force in two tranches by November 4.

Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister had said that "India follows only UN sanctions and not unilateral sanctions by any country" days after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal.

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