NEW DELHI - Indian refiners have got the green light to prepare to pay Iran $1.4 billion in oil dues, two sources with knowledge of the issue said, in one of the first signs that last month's nuclear deal is helping Tehran unlock frozen funds.
The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers was struck on July 14 and sanctions could begin to be removed later this year if UN inspectors confirm Tehran is complying with its provisions.
Indian Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi asked refiners this month to prepare to pay Tehran two installment of $700 million, part of the money owed for oil imports, said the sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Iran is desperate for funds and investment to help its economy, crippled by decades of sanction.
Mehrishi last month led a delegation of officials from the Reserve Bank of India and state-run UCO Bank to Tehran to discuss oil payments.
The exact timing of the payments is unclear since the finance ministry is seeking clearance from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of treasury to go ahead, one of the sources said.
The office of India's finance secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The US Treasury said it did not comment specifically on countries or institutions involved in payments.
But in a statement said "the US government has committed to render non-sanctionable the release in installments of certain Iranian restricted funds held overseas in an amount consistent with installments provided under previous JPOA relief periods."