India engaging with US and others on S-400 deal, Iran oil

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Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar. (File Photo: IANS)
Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar. (File Photo: IANS)

India is continuing to engage with the US and all other stakeholders regarding the S-400 missile deal with Russia and import of crude oil from Iran following Washington’s sanctions on Moscow and Tehran, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

“On S-400, I can tell you that this is dictated by our national interests,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing here.

“We are engaged with the US on this matter and we have shared our position with the US at different levels,” Kumar said.

“These discussions have contributed to a better understanding by the US on our objectives, our concerns, as well as our sensitivities and expectations.”

The S-400 missile deal, signed during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi earlier this month, has been an issue of much speculation after the Trump administration’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law came into effect in January. CAATSA targets countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies.

A group of US senators imposed the sanctions on Russia over what they called Moscow’s continued involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Syria and its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Following the signing of the S-400 deal, the US Embassy spokesperson here said that the intent of her country’s implementation of CAATSA was “to impose costs on Russia for its malign behaviour, including by stopping flow of money to Russia’s defence sector”.

Spokesperson Jinnie Lee said that CAATSA was “not intended to impose damage to the military capabilities of our allies or partners”.

There have also been concerns in New Delhi following fresh US sanctions on Iran, set to come into effect on November 4, since the West Asian nation is a major supplier of crude oil to India.

The US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Tehran had signed with the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union and imposed the new sanctions on the West Asian nation over its nuclear programme.

Under the sanctions, the US wants all countries in the world to stop importing oil from Iran.

“On the Iran issue and the issues growing out of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, again we are engaged with all stakeholders in this matter,” spokesperson Kumar said.

“Our expectations have been made known to the US side.”

Kumar said that India appreciates the statement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the intention of imposing sanctions on Iran is not to hurt India.

“We do intend to continue our engagement with the US and other stakeholders to ensure our energy security and to protect our national interest,” he stated.

He also said that Brian Hook, the Special Envoy of the US on Iran, visited India and held discussions with several officials and interlocutors in different ministries.

“Basically, he also wanted to understand our position and our perspective on this matter,” Kumar said.

“We have conveyed to him that the price of crude oil is a matter of concern for the domestic economy and directly impacts the common man.”