India thinks highly of Iran’s energy sector

TEHRAN, Jun. 20 (MNA) – The Ambassador of India to Iran, Saurabh Kumar, said JCPOA’s most significant achievement was the rise in India’s crude imports from Iran through local currencies.

Iran and India possess an age-old history of cultural and trade ties though the trend has been limited to energy and agricultural sectors in the past 10 years due to sanctions imposed on Iran's nuclear program.

During tough years of sanctions, India was one of the few countries whose economic and trade relations with Iran persisted the main factor being culture as well as deepening of civilization ties.

India enjoys a special position in Iran’s strategic policy towards the Eastern world since it remains as the fourth largest economy in the world which is rapidly pursuing the path of development with a growth rate of seven percent. Iran, in turn, is the largest regional economy and the 20th largest global economy. The remarkable point is the complementary nature of the two countries’ economies. As such, expansion Iranian and Indian economies not only will not limit their peripheral space, but add to the pace of economic growth in the two countries and will compensate for the shortcomings.

In this regard, the international desk of Mehr News Agency (MNA) conducted an interview with Ambassador Saurabh Kumar in Tehran.

What is the common ground of cooperation between Iran and India?

India – Iran relationship is a very old relationship. It is a very historical relationship, and we have had good bilateral ties, and people to people contacts. So we look forward to our relationship growing further in all areas including political, economic, cultural, people to people and scientific and technical exchanges.

We already have a good base for moving ahead in these areas. We are doing good in some of these areas, but potential is a lot more. So we are working for expanding the relationship. Hydrocarbon or energy sector is an important sector for cooperation. Chabahar, trade, connectivity are other areas where we are working. Our prime minister’s visit last year was reflective of the desire on both sides that we want to broaden and deepen our relations.

What changes were made in the volume of economic relations between two countries after JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)?

The most significant consequence of the JPOA was that we are now importing more Iranian crude oil. We are also able to pay Iranian side for the crude oil which we buy in hard currency. This was not possible before the JCPOA. Crude oil is very important and significant part of our bilateral trade. So this is something which has benefited us and has benefited you. Before the JCPOA there were restrictions on the crude we could buy from you since banking channels were not working. After the JCPOA there are no obstacles in the way of crude purchase by India form Iran. So this is a very positive development.

What position does Iran hold in providing the supply of India's energy? Shall we expect that the volume of India's energy imports from Iran will increase?

As I told you energy cooperation is a very important part of our cooperation. Before sanctions, Iran was at number two position in supplying crude to India. I am happy to inform you that after the JPOA, we started importing more and more of Iranian crude.  Today Iran has improved its potion. It is the second largest supplier of crude to India. Last year we bought 20 million metric tons of crude from Iran worth almost 7 billion US dollar. So we are satisfied that energy partnership has progressed. But we have an understanding that we want to move away from a buyer-seller relationship to a more comprehensive energy partnership. This is what we need to work towards.

What is the alternative for India to the Peace Pipeline?

I would not like to go into history of the pipeline. We should look ahead. Pipeline is one of the options for transfer of gas from Iran to India. There are other options too which are also available. LNG is one such option; modern technology provides other possibilities. So we look at all these when we have discussion with our Iranian friends. Whichever option is most practical from commercial point of view and is technically feasible, is the option which we would be ready to work with.

As you know, India skipped One Belt One Road Forum (Silk Road) held in China under the pretext of the unsolved Kashmir dispute. Now the question is how India might form its future economic bloc facing the US withdrawal from TPP and China's effort to revive the Silk Road? Will India finally join the New Silk Road project?

India's position in OBOR (One Belt-One Road) which now is being referred to as BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) is very clear. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Indian Territory which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. CPEC is an important component of BRI. So it would be appreciated that India for this reason, has difficulties with BRI. As far as India's economic relationships are concerned, we would like to have good economic ties with all countries. For example, India is part of the negotiations on RCEP in which China, South East Asian countries and others are involved. We are carrying on negotiations with Europe Union for an economic partnership but these have not been successful till now. We are also looking at Eurasian Economic Union for a structural relationship with it. And we are an active member of the WTO, and would like to see that its agenda moves ahead. So we do not see a scenario which you are implying viz. India is part of one group against the other. We would want to have good economic relationship with all.

Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting is held next month in Switzerland and India will forward his request to join this group. China announced once again that our position for joining India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group has not changed, and we are opposed to membership of countries that have not signed the NPT treaty. Given the fact that China has veto rights in the UN Security Council, what will India do in this context?

Our policy is clear. India wants to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and we would continue our consultations with all parties, including China to achieve our objective.

Interview by: Banafshee Esmaeili

News Code 126055


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