Kolkata - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India to do more to reduce Iranian oil imports, saying that it could be "devastating" for the world if Tehran developed a nuclear bomb. She arrived in Kolkata (West Bengal) yesterday on a three-day visit and in the capital New Delhi, where she spoke again about the embargo on Iranian oil.
For months, the United States has been asking India, but also other Asian nations like China, Japan and South Korea, to stop importing oil from Iran in order to put economic pressure on Tehran and force it to give up its nuclear programme.
According to Israel and much of the international community, Iran's nuclear programme is military in nature, a claim Tehran rejects, insisting that its intention is peaceful.
India "is certainly working towards lowering purchases of Iranian oil," Clinton said. However, "We cannot accept that that they (India) have taken it that far.
Iran's regime "has a history of aggressive behaviour and I do not think you deal with aggressors by giving in to them," Clinton added.
In her view, there was "adequate" supply of oil in the marketplace, including from Saudi Arabia, to make up for reductions from Iran.
India has no domestic oil production and imports 400,000 barrels from Iran every day, 12 per cent of its domestic needs.
In December 2010, the Reserve Bank of India (central bank) stopped payment to Tehran because of United Nations sanctions, which did not ban buying Iranian oil but made financial transactions very difficult.
Faced with Tehran's threat to cut off oil supplies, New Delhi bypassed sanctions to maintain its trade with Iran.