How the U.S. Is Complicating India's Relationship With Iran

Dec 14, 2018 | 11:00 GMT

This illustration combines the flags of Iran and India.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, India will give in to some of Washington's demands. To avoid open confrontation with the Trump administration, New Delhi will make a concerted effort to extend the waiver on Iranian oil by offering concessions in other areas.



  • The U.S. waiver allowing India to import oil from Iran doesn't resolve New Delhi's dilemma on its relationship with Tehran, which is facing fierce pressure from Washington.
  • India still sees advantages in cooperating with Iran on energy and regional security, but the great power competition is an additional complication in navigating its ties with Tehran.
  • If the United States renews its harshest demands on Iran's oil trade, India may further cut those imports while offering greater concessions to Washington in other areas. But New Delhi will not ask its state-owned energy companies to eliminate oil imports from Iran.

India is facing some hard choices on its ties to Iran in 2019. Oil is crucial to their relationship, and the United States has been targeting Iran's exports of crude with sanctions. Though Washington has given eight countries, including India, a waiver from those penalties, that reprieve lasts until only March. And while New Delhi values its growing ties with the United States, it doesn't want to appear to be subservient to any great power. The question boils down to this: How far will New Delhi go in accommodating U.S. pressure in light of its own interests in the region and the world?...

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