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Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit comes at a time when tensions have escalated between Iran and the US. What is India’s stake in this; what are the challenges it faces diplomatically, and as an importer of Iran oil? (Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

What are America’s recent actions against Iran?
With the US reimposing sanctions on Iran after a four-year hiatus, India is in a precarious position. It cannot import oil from Iran, with the US having stopped sanctions exemption to India from importing Iranian oil after May 1.

Tensions between the US and Iran escalated recently. US deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region.

Trump’s move to target Iran, and side with Saudi Arabia and Israel, can potentially have an adverse impact on the peace and stability in the region. Over 8 million Indian migrant workers live and work in the West Asian region.

What is the significance of Zarif’s visit at this time?
Zarif’s trip is a strategic move by Tehran to rally support. A skilled diplomat who was at the forefront of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of
Action (JCPOA) negotiations between Iran and the P-5+1 countries, Zarif has already been to China and Russia, before he came to Delhi.

Where does India stand with regard to the sharply escalated tensions between Iran and the US?
India has conveyed to Iran that it would like all parties to the JCPOA agreement to continue to fulfil their commitments and that all parties should engage “constructively” and resolve all issues “peacefully and through dialogue”.

Any tension due to regional rivalry is going to impact the lives of these Indians and might even put them at risk. In previous tense situations, India has had to evacuate Indian nationals from the region. But its capacity to evacuate is limited – not more than in thousands.

How important is Iran to India as a supplier of crude oil, and in the broader diplomatic and strategic sense?
Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It used to be the second largest after Saudi Arabia until 2010-11, when sanctions moved it to seventh spot in subsequent years.

The US decision to end waivers for countries importing crude from Iran beginning May 2 may hurt India’s interests, as it will have to look for alternative sources.

Division over sanctions this time
Unlike during the previous set of sanctions that had kicked in 2010, this time the world is divided. Except for the US, other partners – especially the EU and the three major European countries UK, Germany and France — have expressed their commitments to go ahead with the agreement.

US and India share stand on on Chabahar port development
What has however been a sole reprieve is that the US has not put sanctions on Chabahar port development, since both Delhi and Washington’s objectives on accessing Afghanistan remain the same. Chabahar is India’s strategic investment in the region and is being developed as an access point to Afghanistan, since the strife-torn country is landlocked. It is also seen as a gateway to Central Asia, which is inaccessible to India directly. The port is strategic as the only way to circumvent Pakistan and get to Afghanistan.

(Source:https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/simply-put-why-iran-ministers-visit-matters-5727853/)



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