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17 January 2012 - 21:56

The Indian foreign secretary says New Delhi will continue to import oil from Tehran and does not seek a US waiver as protection against Washington's sanctions on the Iranian oil sector.

"We have accepted sanctions which are made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries," Ranjan Mathai was quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday.

Implying that India did not see the new US sanctions against Iran's oil as binding, he added, "We continue to buy oil from Iran."

US President Barack Obama signed a new law on December 31, 2011, which seeks to impose fresh economic sanctions against Iran's Central Bank and oil sector.

The law requires foreign financial firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran's Central Bank and oil sector or with the US financial sector.

However, the new sanctions will allow waivers for firms in countries that significantly reduce dealings with Iran, or at any time when it is either in US national interests or necessary for energy market stability. Japan, South Korea and Turkey have so far sought waivers.

India meets about three-quarters of its crude demands through imports and Iran is its second-largest supplier after Saudi Arabia.

The country has been struggling to pay for Iranian crude as a result of new US sanctions. Since 2011, Turkey's Halkbank has routed India's payments to Iran though the bank may be affected by the latest US sanctions.

The US and its European allies have been accusing Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this pretext to convince the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions against the country.

Tehran insists that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
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