India Finance Minister Sri Pranab Kumar Mukherjee 390.
(photo credit: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters)
India, the world's fourth-largest oil consumer, said it would not take steps to cut petroleum imports from Iran despite US and European sanctions against Tehran Sunday night.
"It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters on a visit to the Unites States.
The United States wants buyers in Asia, Iran's biggest oil market, to cut imports to put further pressure on Tehran.
Over the weekend, Iran sent conflicting signals in a dispute with the West over its nuclear ambitions, vowing to stop oil exports soon to "some" countries but postponing a parliamentary debate on a proposed halt to crude sales to the European Union.
Lawmakers have raised the possibility of turning the tables on the EU
which will implement its own embargo on Iranian oil by July as it
tightens sanctions on Tehran over the nuclear program.
In a remark suggesting Iran would fight sanctions with sanctions, Iran's oil minister said the Islamic state would soon stop exporting crude to "some" countries.
Rostam Qasemi did not identify the countries but was speaking less than a week after the EU's 27 member states agreed to stop importing crude from Iran from July 1.
"Soon we will cut exporting oil to some countries," the state news agency IRNA quoted Qasemi as saying.
The Islamic Republic declared itself optimistic about a visit by UN nuclear experts that began on Sunday but also warned the inspectors to be "professional" or see Tehran reducing cooperation with the world body on atomic matters.