India said Tuesday, May 15 it would cut purchases of Iranian oil by 11 percent following pressure from the United States to join a drive to isolate the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear programme, AFP reported.
Indian refiners expect to import 15.5 million metric tons of crude from Iran in the fiscal year that began April 1, the country’s junior oil minister told parliament in a written reply, down from 17.44 million tons last ear.
The move comes after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week urged India to reduce its imports of Iranian oil as Washington readies a law to go into effect next month to slap sanctions on nations that buy oil from Tehran.
Energy-scarce India, which imports four-fifths of its crude, says it shares the U.S. goal of preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
But New Delhi also says the Islamic republic remains an “important source of oil” and it cannot take any drastic action to slash imports as Iran is key in meeting India’s growing energy needs.
India and Iran have a long shared history and culture and New Delhi sees the Islamic Republic as a vital counterweight to rival Pakistan in the troubled geographic region.
As part of its drive to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil, India, which depended on Iran for 12 percent of its imports last year, has already asked its top state-run importers to reduce shipments from Tehran.
Indian officials had initially said India might reduce Iranian oil imports by 15 to 20 percent.