*New Delhi:* In a scathing article, Tehran Times called India a ‘pygmy’ over its decision to “buckle under US pressure” and cut oil exports from Iran. Citing the various developments that took place after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s rebuke of the US sanctions on Iran, the op-ed, written by Syed Zafar Mehdi said, "A few days ago, less than a month after Swaraj’s statement, India buckled under the overwhelming US pressure, betraying national interest and confirming its status as a pygmy, rather than a giant."
The article further states, "Incidentally, it happened a day after US ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley visited India . India’s oil ministry ordered refiners to prepare for drastic reduction or zero import of Iranian oil from November when the 180-day wind-down period ends. The news stirred a hornet’s nest in India as any cut in Iranian oil mean substantial jump in oil prices in India , which will hit people hard.”
Iran has been the main supplier of crude oil to India , even at the peak of Western sanctions between 2012 and 2016, the Tehran Times piece stated, adding that while a volume of business would be affected by the crippling sanctions, “The partnership never broke.”
The op-ed comes just days after it was reported that the oil ministry has asked refiners in India to prepare for a 'drastic reduction or zero' imports of Iranian oil from November, two industry sources said, the first sign that New Delhi is responding to a push by the United States to cut trade ties with Iran.
During the previous round of sanctions, India was one of the few countries that continued to buy Iranian oil, although it had to reduce imports as shipping, insurance and banking channels were choked due to the European and US sanctions.
“Modi-led BJP government in New Delhi has come under blistering criticism at home over this ‘ill-advised’ decision that will only tarnish India’s reputation globally. Responsible nation states act responsibly without allowing anyone to bully or threaten them. By succumbing to the pressure of U.S., India has not only risked its age-old ties with Tehran , but also demonstrated its weak diplomacy,” Mehdi wrote in Tehran Times.
The piece also cited various reactions on India’s move, including those by Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala, Gaurav Pandhi and Ashok Swain.
“A country that aspires to be a global power, a financial and industrial giant, a protagonist of new international policy, and a viable counter-weight to China's rise is outsourcing its foreign policy to a country that has a terrible foreign policy record. India has just touched a new low,” the Tehran Times piece stated.
The piece further said that no matter what the situation, the mood in Iran remains upbeat.
“India’s foolhardy decision to cut Iranian oil imports under U.S. pressure at a time when the U.S. government has imposed higher tariff on many Indian products shows how the power dynamics work. However, the mood is Iran remains upbeat. Iranians are not panicking just because India has backstabbed them. The country has seen the worst and bounced back stronger every time,” it further said.