Brothers in Arms: (from left to right) Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassdor to India Ali Chegeni and joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) Dr Deepak Mittal
India-Iran Ties

After U.S. Sanctions, Iran Foreign Minister Dashes To India, Holds Constructive Talks

Surya Gangadharan 14 May 2019

Two tweets at the end of Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif’s overnight visit to Delhi summed up the concerns of either side at a time when tensions are growing in the Straits of Hormuz.

The MEA tweet went thus: “EAM @SushmaSwaraj and Iranian Foreign Minister @JZarif held constructive discussions on all bilateral issues of mutual interest. Good exchange of views on the evolving regional situation, including Afghanistan.”

The Iranian tweet appeared to focus on the one issue crucial to Tehran: “In a constructive meeting between H.E Zarif and H.E Sushma Swaraj, #Iran’s position on #JCPOA, steps taken by Iran within the framework of JCPOA, deepening Iran-India ties and regional developments have been discussed.”

Sources later said Zarif’s air dash to Delhi was at their initiative and intended to brief the Indian side on Iran’s approach to the JCPOA or the nuclear issue. Iran has announced partial withdrawal from the JCPOA, the nuclear deal it had signed with the U.S. and Europe in 2015, which Donald Trump has walked out of.

 

Last week, Iran threatened to emulate the United States when President Hassan Rouhani indicated that enriched uranium stocks would be kept within the country rather than sold abroad, as it is required to by the nuclear deal. President Rouhani had also threatened to resume production of more highly enriched uranium unless the signatories to the nuclear deal did more to defend Iran from U.S. sanctions.

The sources said that Zarif had told his Indian interlocutors in specific terms that oil and banking channels must be restored, the implication being that otherwise Iran would be forced to go ahead with its uranium enrichment threat.

India is reported to have made clear that all parties to the nuclear deal must fulfill their commitments and engage in dialogue to resolve their differences. As regards India buying Iranian oil, the sources said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had assured that a decision would be taken after the elections and keeping in view commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the operationalisation of the initial contract of the Chabahar port. There was an exchange of views on Afghanistan and the regional situation.

 

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