Japan unlikely to be standard for India on Iran curbs

Japan is unlikely to be the "benchmark" for India when the US initiates the process of deciding the fate of Iranian sanctions on dozen countries.

Washington: Japan is unlikely to be the "benchmark" for India when the Obama Administration initiates the process of deciding the fate of Iranian sanctions on dozen countries, which according to a US legislation need to "significantly" reduce their dependence on oil from Iran.

"It`s Apple and Oranges," a source familiar with the thinking of the Obama Administration on the issue said when asked if India should reduce its oil dependence on Iran by at least 15 per cent, as was done by Japan.

Japan was one of the 11 countries, that included mostly those from Europe, which were exempted by the US from its Iranian sanctions legislations as it determined that these countries have "significantly" reduced their dependence on Iranian oil.

India and Japan can`t be put in the same boat, both fall in different categories, the sources said, adding that the parameters set for Japan`s "significant" reduction could not be the same for India.

Japan made a commendable reduction -- of 15 to 22 per cent -- in its oil purchase from Iran despite being hit by the tsunami and its nuclear reactors being badly damaged.

Officials last month had told reporters that this could be a benchmark for other countries.

But now those familiar with the process and given the series of talks between the two countries since then, Japan is unlikely to be the barometer for India, sources said.

In case of New Delhi, Washington would definitely be considering India`s galloping energy needs, which are necessary to meet the demands of 1.2 billion people and the availability of alternate source of energy.

Also India`s important developmental role in Afghanistan, for which it has to rely on Iran, especially for its supply route, is also expected to be a factor, before the US makes a decision on India with regard to Iranian sanctions.

Administration sources familiar with the process said that the two countries are having a series of discussions on this issue.

However, the final decision on this would be taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself, sources confirmed.

The US has time till end of June to make a determination in this regard.

"With respect to India, they are making steps that are heading in the right direction. In fact, I think in a number of instances, the actions of countries and their banks are better than the public statements that we sometimes hear them making," Clinton told lawmakers at a recent Congressional hearing.


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