A top US envoy on Iran is headed to India this week for talks ahead of the November 4 deadline set by the President Donald Trump administration for countries to bring down their import of Iranian oil to zero. In addition to India, Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook will be travelling to Europe to further discuss US foreign policy toward Iran. During this week-long trip, Hook will engage "allies and partners on our shared" need to counter the entirety of the Iranian regime's destructive behaviour in the Middle East, and in their own neighbourhoods, the State Department said.
In India, he and Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Francis R Fannon, will meet with their counterparts for consultation. In Luxembourg, he will attend meetings with officials gathered for the European Union meeting of ministers. In France, Hook and Bureau of Energy Resources officials will meet with the executive director of the International Energy Agency, and in Belgium, he will meet with EU counterparts to discuss the Iranian regime's continued missile proliferation, the State Department said.
Meanwhile, it said it expected all allies and friends to bring down their purchase of Iranian oil to zero or be ready to face punitive sanctions beginning November 4. Responding to questions on reports that India will continue to purchase oil from Iran after November 4, State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said this was not helpful.
"Overall with regard to those sanctions that will take effect on November 4th and you're referring to the oil sanctions for Iran and countries that choose to continue purchasing oil from Iran, we have conversations with many partners and allies around the world about those sanctions. We make our policies very clear to those countries. We continue to have conversations with the government of Iraq about that particular issue and the implications for the reimposition of sanctions that were previously lifted or even waived under the JCPOA," Nauert said.
The Trump administration has given the same message to all countries around the world, and the President has said that the United States is committed to re-enforcing all of its sanctions.
"We believe that countries coming together and recognising the malign influence that Iran has had around the world is important. We know that Iran and the government of Iran has taken the benefits that it received under the JCPOA and they've poured that money not into their own population, not into the good of the people, not into its medical hospitals and things of that nature, but rather they've used it for its own nefarious programmes," Nauert said.
Noting that she has seen reports of India continuing to buy oil from Iran after November 4, she said this was a topic of conversation with the Indian government when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in India last month.
"The President had addressed it I believe. It was just earlier today which he was asked about that question about whether or not India would buy oil from Iran after sanctions are reimposed. I'm not going to get ahead of the President certainly, but he said we'll take care of that. He was asked also about the possible imposition of CAATSA sanctions. And he said, India is going to find out. And India will find out. We'll see. So I'm not going to get ahead of him, but certainly, when we hear about things such as purchasing oil or the S-400 systems, it's not helpful. The United States government just reviews that very carefully," she said.