US threats over buying Iranian oil puts India in dilemma

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) holds hands with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) during a ceremonial reception at the Indian Presidential palace in New Delhi. (File Photo / AFP)
Updated 15 September 2018
0

US threats over buying Iranian oil puts India in dilemma

DELHI: India is facing a dilemma over how to respond to the US threat of punitive measures against countries that do not comply with sanctions on Iran, experts say.
On Thursday, the US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, Manisha Singh, warned of the “strongest actions possible on people who will not assist us in complying with this new range of sanctions that we are putting back into place.”
She was asked in Congress: “If any of the major buyers of Iranian crude, which is China, India… refuse to sharply cut their purchases, are we really prepared to cut their banks off from the global banking system?” Singh replied: “We are prepared to take the most serious actions possible on Iran.”
A spokesman for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Sudesh Verma, told Arab News: “The party still has to make up its mind on the issue.”
Harsh V. Pant, head of the Strategic Affairs Programme at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, told Arab News: “India’s official position remains that it doesn’t honor unilateral sanctions, but the reality on the ground is different.”
He said: “India and Iran are trying to see how to bypass the sanctions, but India will find it tough to salvage the relationship with Iran considering the fact that the Trump administration is acting tough. There’s great pressure on India to fall in line.”
He added: “India has already reduced its oil imports from Iran. New Delhi is cognizant of the fact that the US financial system is important for India.”
Ashok Sajjanhar, a former diplomat who served in the Indian Embassy in Iran, told Arab News: “We’re dealing with Washington in a very nimble-footed manner.”
He said: “New Delhi will have to play a very deft balancing act. It might have to taper down its imports, but it won’t go to zero.”
Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.


Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2016, Andy Chan (R), leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), gives a press conference at the start of a rally near the government's headquarters in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
0

Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

  • The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover

HONG KONG: Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday took an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.
John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation from Monday.
Lee’s announcement did not provide further details. But Hong Kong’s security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 27-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Chan had no immediate comment.
That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997. The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated.
Chan, the National Party leader, had previously told The Associated Press that police approached him with documents detailing his speeches and activities since the party’s formation in 2016.
The party was founded in response to frustration about Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong. Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing.
Chan and other pro-independence candidates were disqualified from 2016 elections to the Hong Kong legislature after they refused to sign a pledge saying Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. The Hong Kong National Party has never held any seats on the council.