‘India`s Iran oil buy a slap on US face’

India`s decision to continue importing Iranian oil is a slap on the US` face which is galvanising the world to isolate Tehran, says Nicholas Burns.

Updated: Feb 20, 2012, 11:49 AM IST

Washington: India`s decision to continue
importing Iranian oil is a slap on the face of the United
States, which is galvanising the international community to
isolate Tehran, according to a former US diplomat who was Bush
Administration`s pointman on Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

"This is bitterly disappointing news for those of us who
have championed a close relationship with India. And, it
represents a real setback in the attempt by the last three
American presidents to establish a close and strategic
partnership with successive Indian governments," former under
secretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns wrote
in an op-ed in current-affairs magazine `The Diplomat` on Monday.

"India`s decision to walk out of step with the
international community on Iran isn`t just a slap in the face
for the US... it raises questions about its ability to lead,"
said Burns.

India, which relies on Iran for 12 per cent of its oil
imports, has refused to scale it down.

Only recently, Burns had written an op-ed in The Boston
Globe arguing that the US should commit to an ambitious,
long-term strategic partnership with India. "I remain
convinced of its value to both countries and to the new global
balance of power being created in this century," he wrote.

"With its unhelpfulness on Iran and stonewalling on
implementation of the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear
Agreement, however, the Indian government is now actively
impeding the construction of the strategic relationship it
says it wants with the United States," Burns said.

Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush have met India
more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible
commitments on issues India cares about, he said, adding
unfortunately India has made no corresponding gesture in
return for the big vision that Obama and Bush have offered.

"It`s time that India speaks much more clearly about the
priority it places on its future with the United States. Most
importantly, India must begin to provide the kind of visible
leadership on difficult issues such as Iran that its many
friends in the United States and around the world had expected
to see by now," Burns wrote.

"The Indian government`s ill-advised statement last week
that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major
setback for the US attempt to isolate the Iranian government
over the nuclear issue," he said as he took head on the Indian
defence that India relies on Iran for 12 per cent of its oil
imports and can`t afford to break those trade ties.

"India has had years to adjust and make alternative
arrangements. Ironically, the United States has had
considerable success on the sanctions front in recent months.

"The EU has decided to implement an oil embargo on Iran,
the US is introducing Central Bank sanctions and even the East
Asian countries, such as China, have imported less Iranian oil
in recent months. That makes India’s recent pronouncements
seem extremely out of step and out of touch with the new
global determination to isolate and pressure Iran to negotiate
in order to avoid a catastrophic war," Burns said.