India appears confident that it will be able to keep importing Iranian oil this fall despite US sanctions, signaling that high-stakes negotiations between the two countries will continue up until the November 5 deadline. Two Indian oil companies have made nominations to import Iranian oil in November despite the threat of sanctions, India’s oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Monday. He said India had not yet heard if the US will grant any sanctions relief. A State Department official confirmed Monday that the US is “in the midst of an internal process to consider [significant reduction exemption] waivers for individual countries.”
“We continue to discuss our Iran policy with our counterparts around the world and the implications of our re-imposition of sanctions previously lifted or waived” under the Iran nuclear deal, the official said. “Our goal remains to get to zero oil imports from Iran as quickly as possible, ideally by November 4. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” the official said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said since July that the government would consider requests for sanctions relief from a “handful of countries.” Analysts continue to expect those exemptions to be few and far between.
India has been seeking relief from the US sanctions, with the highest-level talks happening in New Delhi in September between the foreign and defense ministers from both countries. At the time, Pompeo left the door open for potentially granting relief to India.