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India, South Africa Undercut International Sanction Efforts Against Iran

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While sanctions continue to be leveled against Tehran, Iran continues to find buyers for its oil. India and South Africa are among the countries that have increased imports as of late.An article in the Wall Street Journal recently reported that India and South Africa have continued to purchase oil from Iran despite continuing Western economic sanction efforts to deter Iranian nuclear progress.

While Tehran’s crude oil exports to China slashed by fifty-percent in January due to monetary disagreement, its monthly exports to India raised 37.5 percent—roughly 550,000 barrels were shipped to India daily to Beijing’s 250,000.

India’s commerce secretary, Rahul Khullar, expressed few qualms about resuming India’s business in Iran while the EU and U.S. continue to step up economic sanctions against Iranian oil and its central bank.

“Tell me why I should follow suit?” Khullar asked, referring to the Western decision to curb commerce in Tehran. “Why shouldn’t I take up that business opportunity?”

At the same time, the Indian government has declared their interest in sending a delegation to Iran at the end of the month to amplify their business commitments there. In the absence of some of the more prominent countries, India looks to exploit any lucrative opportunities now available.

 “We will be mounting a mission to Iran at the end of the month to promote our own exports,” Khullar further announced in a New Delhi news conference. “A huge delegation will be going.”

The dignitary said that while India had adhered to UN policies concerning Iran, there were still some business ends left untied for New Delhi to explore. Of course, such an approach clearly undercuts the overwhelming international effort to sabotage Iran.

News media also reported India may defray the costs of Iranian crude with Indian wheat, and rupees may be the currency used to pay a large part of the $11 billion Tehran sells India annually. These methods are being undertaken to work around sanctions crippling India’s ability to pay Iran through conventional banking means.

For many, these latest reports demonstrate the shortcomings of the economic sanctions program currently being led by the West. Bartering with India for wheat and other commodities conveys the extent to which Tehran will go in order to sell their oil.

“Iran will barter oil for food, oil for cars,” explained Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of Virginia Tech University. “They will find ways.”
The US government has noted the issue, and its severity was reflected in a statement made by President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to India, Nancy J. Powell. “This is going to be a very important topic and one of those that I will be dealing with very seriously and very early in my tenure,” Powell said in a confirmation hearing before the Senate on February 7.

South Africa has also increased Iranian oil imports to 100,000 barrels, despite having expressed their interest in exploring and implementing an alternative energy program.

Iran maintains their nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes, and has continued undaunted in the face of international sanctions and scrutiny. The West has stressed that Iran’s uranium enrichment plants are designed for nuclear weaponry, and claim the regime is hiding a program which poses a significant threat to Israel and the West.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal enumerated, among other things, the pitfalls of sanctions and how Israel, who faces an existential challenge in Tehran, cannot afford to forestall an attack on Iran in favor of such an approach.
“Diplomacy has run its course: Even U.N. diplomats now say Iran uses negotiations as a tactic to buy time,” Stephens explained in an op-ed entitled “(How) Should Israel Bomb Iran?”
“The sanctions are too late: Israel can’t afford to wait a year or two to see if Europe’s embargo on Iranian oil or the administration’s squeeze on Iran’s financial institutions will alter Tehran’s nuclear calculations.”

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