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India says continuing to buy oil from Iran
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Jan 17, 2012

Energy-hungry India said Tuesday it was continuing to buy oil from Iran, despite an intensifying US campaign to smother Tehran's vital oil exports until it abandons its nuclear programme.

"We have accepted sanctions which were made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries," Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told a news conference. "We continue to buy oil from Iran."

Iran is India's second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, providing around 12 percent of the fast-growing country's needs at an annual cost of around $12 billion.

Washington is spearheading a campaign to squeeze Iranian oil exports, and President Barack Obama recently signed a bill allowing penalties on foreign banks who settle oil import costs with Iran's central bank.

The law provides waivers to firms in countries that significantly reduce crude supplies from Iran. Under Washington's measures, foreign firms must choose between doing business with the Islamic republic or the United States.

Mathai said India would not seek a waiver from the United States.

Last week Japan appeared to backtrack on a pledge to cut imports, while China refused to bow to US pressure.

The foreign secretary's remarks came after a high-level government delegation departed for Tehran to work out an alternative mode of payment for oil, a senior finance ministry told AFP, asking not to be named.

Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters on Monday the delegation would "work out what (could be done) in terms of the new sanctions under section 1245 of the US Act".

The governments of the two countries would work on financial mechanisms for India to continue to import Iranian crude as well as to promote Indian exports, he added.

New Delhi at present pays Iran $1 billion every month through Turkey.

India fears Turkey may come under pressure to halt the conduit with the fresh US round of sanctions against Iran. The European Union is slated to announce tough measures of its own at the end of the month.

Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, has repeatedly said it will not abandon uranium enrichment despite four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions demanding it desist.

India is Iran's second largest client after China, and absorbs about 20 percent of the Islamic republic's crude exports, buying about 400,000 barrels of Iranian crude per day.

Last year amid sanctions-related payment problems, media reports suggested that India might seek to pay for some of its oil from Iran through barter deals. Iran's imports from India include steel, food and electronic goods.

Iran on Tuesday warned US ally Saudi Arabia to rethink plans to make up for any shortfall in Iranian oil exports, and boosted security for its targeted nuclear workers as it dug in under its showdown with the West.

Tehran has threatened to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz if more sanctions are imposed.

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China and UAE sign energy cooperation agreement
Abu Dhabi (AFP) Jan 17, 2012 - China's Sinopec clinched a "strategic" energy cooperation agreement with the UAE's state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the official WAM news agency reported Tuesday.

The agreement, inked on the sidelines of an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates capital, came two days after Saudi state oil giant Aramco inked a deal with the Chinese company to build an oil refinery in the Red Sea city of Yanbu that will process some 400,000 barrels per day.

The UAE-Chinese agreement will promote cooperation between the two nations on the production and storage of oil, and on issues pertaining to training and research, according to WAM.

The UAE and China also signed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation which focuses on new and renewable energy sources and paves the way for joint projects and research in the development of clean energy technologies.

The Saudi and UAE agreements were signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Gulf tour which will also take him to Qatar.

His trip comes as the West ups the stakes in its standoff with Iran, threatening to impose sanctions on the oil exports of the Islamic republic, which provides 11 percent of China's oil imports.

Iran is the third largest provider of oil to China. Qatar and the UAE, although both major oil-producing states, do not yet figure among the top 10 oil exporters to Beijing.


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US urges South Korea to cut Iranian oil imports
Seoul (AFP) Jan 17, 2012
A senior US official urged South Korea Tuesday to reduce purchases of crude oil from Iran in line with a US-led drive to sanction Tehran for its suspected nuclear weapons programme. "We are urging all of our partners to help us, to work with us in putting pressure on the government of Iran to get it to negotiate seriously," said Robert Einhorn, State Department special adviser for nonprolif ... read more

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