'Not Only Question of Oil': Ex-Indian Diplomat Weights in on Impact of US-Iran Escalation

© AFP 2023 / ATTA KENAREAn oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran (File)
An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran (File) - Sputnik International
Bilateral ties between India and Iran are more than just a transactional relationship based on buying and selling crude. India's foreign policy establishment is having discussions about Iran at various levels, understanding that the current crisis has numerous implications, says India’s former Envoy to Turkey and Uzbekistan M.K. Bhadrakumar.

New Delhi (Sputnik): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a flutter of sorts last week, by saying that Washington and New Delhi have a shared understanding of the alleged threat posed by Iran.

The Indian government did not immediately react, restraining itself to saying, that all issues on the table between the two countries will be addressed in the context of national interests.

Over the last year, India has been following the standoff between the United States and Iran, in the context of its long-term economic effects on oil supplies. In the last financial year alone, according to government data, New Delhi imported 84 per cent of its crude from the conflict-prone Middle Eastern and West Asia region, including Iran. The US has ruled out any exemptions from its punitive sanctions on Iran for countries that buy oil from the latter, including India.

Former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar commented on the issue. 

Sputnik: US Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent statement that the US and India have a shared understanding of the threats posed by Iran created a flutter within the Indian foreign policy establishment, so much so, that New Delhi said Pompeo’s views did not reflect India’s position. What is your response?

Ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar: Frankly, I don’t understand what Mr Pompeo meant when he said that the United States and India have a shared understanding of issues related to Iran. I don’t know what he meant by that, and I also don’t understand why our External Affairs Minister (S. Jaishankar) kept quiet about it.

Sputnik: In the context of India’s foreign policy initiatives under the present government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, how much emphasis should be placed on the issue of oil imports from Iran?

M.K. Bhadrakumar: At the present moment, it is a very vital issue for India because it is not only a question of oil. In my opinion, India should also look at the emerging situation in terms of regional stability and security. This issue goes far beyond that of oil imports alone. It is about regional security and stability, and overall its impact on the Indian economy.

Sputnik: Can can you elaborate on the point about oil imports having an impact on the Indian economy?

M.K. Bhadrakumar: The belligerent and aggressive behaviour of the United States towards Iran has heightened tensions, and there is a lot of talk in the air, about the dangers of war. The United States is thousands of kilometres away. But this is India’s extended neighbourhood where nearly seven million Indians live and work.

Sputnik: The US maintains that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. During his visit to New Delhi last week Secretary Pompeo said: “We know the Indian people have suffered from terror.” How would you assess this remark?

M.K. Bhadrakumar: I can recall the US Secretary of State saying that India is an affected party as a result of Iran’s behaviour and then characterising Iran as a supporter of terrorism. India has not experienced any such kind of threat nor has it harboured any such threat perceptions from Iran.

India’s concerns about terrorism are entirely different than those expressed by United States propagandists on Iran. What the United States says, or what Secretary Pompeo said just doesn’t make sense. I think India should have clarified its position right then and there.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik’s position.

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