BRICS: Not bound by ‘unilateral’ sanctions on Iran

Russia's President Medvedev receives an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree by the Jawaharlal Nehru University and a citation during a special convocation in New Delhi (Reuters / B Mathur)
India and China insist that US sanctions on Iran's oil industry should not apply to their trade ties with Tehran. All of the BRICS countries agree they are not bound by the "unilateral" sanctions against Iran.

­The statement comes as the trade ministers of the BRICS economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – meet ahead of a summit in India.

"I think that we all broadly agree with the proposal, the terminology that was made, that if there are UN Security Council sanctions then we are all bound by that, but if there are sanctions that are imposed by other countries unilaterally, they shouldn't have to apply to us," South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is cited by Reuters as saying.

China and India remain on the US State Department’s list of countries which America threatened to hit with financial sanctions unless they reduce the volume of Iranian oil imports till June 28.

Earlier, on March 22 the US revealed a list of twelve countries which were warned of sanctions for failing to cut oil imports from Iran. However, the Obama administration then promised to exempt Japan and ten EU nations from the list because they complied with American demands and slashed their purchases of Iranian crude.

China, which remains the biggest buyer and alone receives about 22 per cent of Iranian crude exports, slammed America’s pressure on Iran’s trading partners.

Despite US demands and threats, India said on Wednesday that it will continue using foreign currency when buying oil from Iran until the new EU sanctions take effect in July.  And according to Bloomberg, New Delhi will then use the rupee as the currency of payment.

Iran is facing tough sanctions from Europe and the US over its oil exports. The West sees sanctions as a measure to halt Iran’s nuclear activity, which they suspect is for military purposes.

The EU embargo on Iranian oil will come into force on July 1.

In order to comply with the EU Council and European sanctions imposed on March 17, SWIFT, the Brussels-based clearing house, cut services to Iranian banks. The service denial included Iran’s central bank, which processes the country’s oil revenues, along with about thirty other Iranian financial institutions.

The BRICS group of five is meeting in New Delhi to hold its fourth two-day summit. Though the creation of an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank are said to be the key issues on the agenda, leaders will touch upon Iran and Syria as well.