India not to scale down oil imports from Iran: FM

Chicago: India, which imports 12 per cent of its oil from Iran, will not scale down its petroleum imports from Tehran despite US and European sanctions against the Islamic republic, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

"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," Mukherjee told reporters here.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit aimed at wooing US investment, Mukherjee yesterday said: "Some other countries, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, the other Gulf countries they also contribute but Iran contributes substantially."

"We (India) imports 110 million tonnes of crude per year. We will not decrease imports from Iran. Iran is an important country for India despite US and European sanctions on Iran," the finance minister said.

India, the world`s fourth-largest oil consumer, is Iran`s second-biggest oil client after China. The US and other Western sanctions have been imposed on Iran`s economy over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme.

US President Barack Obama added to those measures on December 31, last year when he signed into law additional sanctions targeting Iran`s central bank and financial sector.

Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao last week said that India`s purchase of oil from Iran has dropped slightly in last two years and is expected to drop further given the difficulties New Delhi might have in making payments through banks due to tough sanctions imposed against Iranian banks.

Rao had said India was in touch with the US Government and closely monitoring the developing situation concerning Iran, when asked about the pressure from the US that India needs to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil.