Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates

Eshaq Jahangiri

Modal Trigger Eshaq Jahangiri REUTERS

"In previous round of U.S. sanctions between 2012 [and] 2015, Iran did its best to ensure security of oil supply to India", Iran's Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said at an event organised by the All India Minorities Front at the Parliament annexe on Tuesday.

This is especially true because the U.S. never really had much justification for withdrawing from the nuclear deal in the first place, beyond President Trump personally having problems with it. Pompeo's primary ammunition in the talks will be assurances that other nations, mostly Saudi Arabia, will replace Iran's oil exports on the market.

Iran on Tuesday criticised India for not fulfilling its promise of making investments in expansion of the strategically located Chabahar port and said New Delhi will stand to lose "special privileges" if it cuts import of Iranian oil. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of the port project in December.

Iran "should know that America is committed to keeping sea lines open, keeping the transit of oil available for the entire world", Pompeo said. "That's the commitment we have had for decades".

Jahangiri said it would be a mistake to think the U.S. "economic war" against Iran will have no impact, but added: "We will make Americans understand this year that they can not stop Iranian oil sales".

Rahaghi pointed out that Iran had remained a reliable energy partner for India providing oil at a "rationale pricing". While allies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait say they are willing to increase their own production as necessary, additional output may not be enough to satiate demand.

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Global oil benchmark Brent fell more than $2 a barrel on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to levy new tariffs on China and Libya announced the reopening of key oil export terminals. Pompeo said that the US would consider waivers for certain countries that wish to import Iranian oil, but added that Washington is determined to take a hard line on Tehran.

Last week, while ruling out waivers to India and Turkey - which have told Washington that they would continue to import oil from Iran - the United States had indicated willingness to work with countries that are reducing their oil imports from Iran. He warned such imports largely would be "sanctionable activity and we will enforce those sanctions".

However, the minister said, Iran has passed various difficulties during the past 40 years and today the country is more united and integrated.

Mr. Pompeo met Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his short trip to the UAE.

Meanwhile, however, the Indian government has become the target of criticism both at home and in Iran after it gave in to US pressure and refiners began cutting imports.

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