/ Bharath Hebbal /
In a series of escalations, United States of America has declared a total economic war against Iran on 22nd April. The white house statement has said “This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue”. Oil being the main exports of Iran, US is attempting to strangulate Iran into submission after Trump Administration took power. Iran currently exports about 1 million barrels of oil per day. When sanctions were first announced in November 5th of 2018, eight countries were initially given six-month deadline to stop oil imports fearing market instability. The current exemptions from unilateral U.S. sanctions ends on April 30 after which all eight countries have to comply.
China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece were the countries given exceptions. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan which will obey the sanctions as US is its protector after WW2. It doesn’t matter for Italy and Greece as they source very less oil from Iran. China decision to comply with this diktat is dependent on the ongoing trade war. Though Indian petroleum minister has confirmed through his tweet that India is going to comply with US sanctions, it will be however decided after current elections and a new government in power. Turkey is one of the biggest importers of Iranian oil and gas and it cannot get oil and gas from other sources within short period of time and might face consequences.
In May 2018, the crisis started when US withdrew unilaterally from a multilateral nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached between Iran and six world powers in 2015 under Obama administration (link). Under Trump administration it has re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the deal. It has recently offered to renegotiate the deal under various conditions. After the debacle of US regime change attempts in Syria and recently in Venezuela and the ongoing wars, it is attempting now to paint Iran as a rogue terrorist regime bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and spreading anti American sentiments across Middle East. This is very similar to the “war on terror” buildup done in 2002 for attack on Iraq (in 2002) under the same national security advisor John Bolton.
These conditions of negotiations as described by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are “bunch of lies which wants to bring Iranian Nation to its knees”. Iranian Foreign Minister M Javad Zarif has clearly questioned why Iran should join another agreement if US has pulled out from its previous agreements? In clear terms he has stated Iran truly believes that president Trump does not want war but his advisors which he terms B-TEAM (Bibi of Israel, Bin Salman of House of Saud, Bin Khaled of UAE and Bolton from America) are the cause for the present crisis. He has stated Iran cannot be brought to knees with the so called maximum pressure policy. 35% of world’s traded oil imports passes through Persian Gulf called “Strait of Hormuz” which passes through Iranian waters and Iranian Revolutionary Guards guard it. On 8th April, Trump administration, designated, Iranian revolutionary Guards Corps as foreign terrorist organisation, marking the first time Washington has formally labelled another country’s military a “terrorist group”. In response, Iran immediately declared the US as “state sponsor of terrorism” and US forces in the region “terrorist groups”.
Historically, India and Iran have shared cordial relations. Even during the times of sanctions under Manmohan Singh and during Narendra Modi, India has aided and sided with Iran. It only remains to be seen whether India will try to strengthen regional bond or betray historical friendship under pressure.