REMARKS On Iran BY SECRETARY of State Hillary CLINTON With Indian External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
May 8, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: We also look to India as a partner in the broad international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The best way to achieve this diplomatic solution that we all seek is for the international community to stay united and to keep the pressure that has brought Iran back to the negotiating table on Iran until we reach a peaceful diplomatic resolution. I welcomed the progress India is making to reduce its purchases of oil from Iran and hope to see continuing progress, because we believe that if the international community eases the pressure or wavers in our resolve, Iran will have less incentive to negotiate in good faith or to take the necessary actions to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program.
MODERATOR: Shaun Tandon, AFP.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary and Mr. Foreign Minister. I wanted to follow up a little bit on the comments on Iran and its nuclear program and about oil. Madam Secretary, in your conversations here in India, are you confident that India is doing more? You commended Indian efforts. Do you think India has done enough to become exempt from the sanctions that will come to place on June 28th?
And Mr. Foreign Minister, if I can follow up, do you agree with the strategic view of the United States when it comes to Iran, the idea that Iran is a global threat? And do you agree with the use of a domestic U.S. law to try to influence Indian policy on this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The minister go first?
MINISTER KRISHNA: Well, thank you very much. That is – I think in the contemporary context that is a very important question. Iran is a key country for our energy needs, but we have to look at the Iran issue beyond the issue of energy trade. In the first place, we have to think about the security and stability in the Gulf region. India has vital stakes in the Gulf region. Six million Indians live and work in the Gulf region and beyond. It is one of the critical destinations of our external trade, over $100 billion U.S. in exports and over 60 percent of our imports and a major source of remittances.
There are ties of religion, culture, and civilization that bind us to the region. There is turbulence in wider West Asian and North African region with uncertain outcomes. And we have a strong interest in peaceful and negotiated settlement of issues relating to Iran’s nuclear program. Our position on the nuclear issue has been clear and it has always been consistent. With respect to our energy, we are dependent on imports to meet bulk of our requirements. India’s imports are growing on an average by about 10 million tons annually. Given our growing demand, it is natural for us to try and diversify our sources of imports of oil and gas to meet the objective of energy security.
Since you asked a specific question about Iran, it remains an important source of oil for us, although its share in our imports are declining, which is well known. Ultimately, it reflects the decision that refineries make based on commercial, financial, and technical considerations. We have discussed our position and our perspectives on energy security, and these discussions will continue. As far as India is concerned, we subscribe to and rigorously implement the UN Security Council resolutions. This issue, however, is not a source of discord between our two countries.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Shaun, as the minister said, the United States and India share the same goal: We both want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And India has been a strong partner in urging Iran to live up to its international obligations and to use the P-5+1 talks that began again in Istanbul and will meet again this month in Baghdad to demonstrate unequivocally the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.
As I said in Kolkata yesterday, we don’t believe Iran would be back at the negotiating table unless there had been the unrelenting pressure of international sanctions. And this pressure must stay on if we want to see progress toward a peaceful resolution. So we commend India for the steps its refineries are taking to reduce imports from Iran, and we have also been consulting with India and working with them in some areas on alternative sources of supply.
So we had a very good discussion of these issues during my visit. Our energy coordinator, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, will be here with an expert team next week to continue these consultations. But there is no doubt that India and the United States are after the same goal.