'No Attempt to Camouflage Payment of Iran Oil Imports'

Lalit K Jha/Washington
'No Attempt to Camouflage Payment of Iran Oil Imports'
India has said that there is an attempt to paint it in negative colour on the issue of importing oil from Iran, arguing that it needs enormous energy for its 1.2 billion people.

"Somehow there has been, sorry to say this, some attempt, I don't know for whatever reasons, to paint India in very negative colours," Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao told a select audience here at the Atlantic Council – a think- tank – while responding to questions on importing Iranian oil.

Rao asserted that India has been transparent on this issue with international partners given its enormous energy security needs.

There is no attempt by India, as is being alleged in certain quarters, to "camouflage payment" of its oil imports from Iran, she argued.

"India has been extremely upfront and has been able to engage in a very frank dialogue with all our partners on this issue," Rao said.

"There are energy security needs for India, but we understand there are certain constraints about importing oil from Iran. We are certainly cognizant of those realities. Obviously the amount of oil, we import from Iran has come down," she said.

"We are a net oil importing country. About 75 per cent of our oil is imported. Iran has been one of our traditional suppliers and many of our refineries are catered to process Iranian crude. But the circumstances today have become more and more difficult for any country to import crude from Iran," she said.

"We are also cognizant of US concerns, and have remained closely engaged on the Iranian issue. Crude imports from Iran have a steadily declining share in India's total oil imports – dropping from a level of over 16 per cent in 2008-09 to almost 10 per cent in 2011-12, and these are expected to decline further in 2012-13," Rao said.

In her remarks, Rao said India believes that while Iran has rights to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it must simultaneously and rigorously fulfill the treaty obligations which it has acceded to.

"We have consistently maintained that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA to address and resolve all outstanding issues that continue to raise doubts in the minds of the international community. India has scrupulously adhered to the multilateral sanctions against Iran as mandated by the United Nations," she said.
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