US President Donald Trump recently warned that India would find out “sooner than you think” in what ways Washington is contemplating to punish it for signing a contract to purchase the S-400 anti-missile system, and now his administration is sending its top envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, to persuade this country not to go ahead with petroleum purchases from Iran.
While the US seeks that India (and other countries) end buying all oil from Iran by November 4, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said last Monday that the two state refiners had placed orders for Iranian oil for the month of November. The die is thus cast. The US will either have to come to a reasonable negotiation of the matter with Iran or go ahead and sanction India.
Regionally, Iran is far too important for India to ignore it. With Iran, from the Indian perspective, it is oil plus other strategic considerations such as the Chabahar port and the transportation corridor that can open up via Central Asia all the way to Russia through Europe.
In any case, India — unlike the US of Mr Trump — does not see Iran as an evil doer and source of instability in West Asia. Mr Trump has signed up with Saudi Arabia to sell armaments worth $110 billion and is playing his politics accordingly since the Saudis and the Iranians have traditionally nurtured mutual hostility. But New Delhi has had good ties with both over a long period of time, and there is no reason why this should change to please any single world power.
Mr Trump has threatened West Europe, Russia, China and now India with sanctions for dealing favourably with countries Washington does not like. That means, the US is busy working on sanctions against all the major world players, thus advocating a world order of confrontation rather than cooperation. This can cause disorder in the heavens.