US decision on Iran oil an assault on India’s sovereignty: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday said the US decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy oil from Iran “is a direct assault on Indias political and economic sovereignty” and termed it as a failure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomacy and his government.

“American decision to impose sanctions from May 1 on countries that buy oil from Iran or have commercial ties with Iran is a direct assault and attack on India’s political and economic sovereignty. This is an attack by the US. Who we buy oil from the US cannot decide. It will be a decision of India,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.

Ramesh said India imports 10 per cent of its crude oil requirements from Iran and pays for it in rupees and dollars.

“It is a failure of ‘Modi diplomacy’ that he could not convince the man whom he has hugged on more than one occasion. About 10 per cent of our oil comes from Iran and two million tons were imported last year. We pay in rupees, we don‘t pay in dollars. That is very important and we get a 60 day line of credit,” he said.

He said the government had information that the US would take a decision to end waiver on purchasing oil from Iran in six months.

“It is the biggest example of failure of Modi government’s diplomacy. He has turned diplomacy into huglomacy. We are seeing the result. The prime minister who says that he has special relations with the US president, we are seeing that today,” he added.

The Congress leader said that the crude deal with Iran on terms favourable to India was negotiated by the Manmohan Singh Government.

Ramesh said if India does not buy oil from Iran, it would have implications for price of domestic petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

“International prices have already crossed $ 74-75 a barrel, these are bound to increase. What is required today is an active diplomatic offensive on the part of the Indian government to use all the economic and diplomatic weapons to convince the Americans that this is not in India’s interest and it is not in America’s interest either,” he said.

Asked if prices of petrol and diesel would increase after the elections, Ramesh said Modi knows he is not coming back.

“So he can do whatever he wants because the consequences of what he does today are going to be borne by his successor,” he said.

The Congress leader also referred to India’s interest in Chabahar Port in Iran and said it links India to central Asia. He said agreement was done by the Manmohan Singh government and India has already invested Rs 1,600 crore in it.

“Today that investment is also at risk,” he said.

He said the US decision was not only a failure of the Modi government, it was of Modi personally because he runs “personalised diplomacy”.

“Modi must bear the full responsibility for this.”

Ramesh said Modi should break his silence on the issue.