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The ministry has argued for the same in a memorandum ahead of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Barack Obama on Friday.
The ministry noted that the cut in imports of Iranian oil of 29 per cent last year was well below the 15 per cent cut to qualify for a sanctions waiver.
India should be allowed to cut in 2013/14 from a theoretical 2012/13 level of about 309,000 barrels per day (bpd), based on cutting 15 per cent from the previous year, the ministry said in the memorandum.
“This option needs to be pursued more vigorously, since it would entitle India to import about (261,000 bpd) of crude oil from Iran in 2013/14,” the memorandum said.
India imports about four million bpd of oil, almost 80 per cent of the country’s needs.
The US led Western countries have imposed crippling sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, which they suspect is an attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is only for the purpose of scientific research and civil energy use.
India, China, Japan and South Korea, have all won a waiver from US sanctions. India’s current waiver from the sanctions runs out in December.
An influential Republican senator earlier in September, asked India to “just quit” buying oil from sanctions-hit Iran, saying its continuing oil import “endangers” the entire world and is a “destabilising” factor for the Middle East.
“The Indians’ purchase of oil from Iran, in my judgment, endangers the entire world community and is a destabilising factor for the Middle East,” said Senator Jim Risch, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Indian Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily is looking for cuts of up to $25 billion in the country’s oil bill and wants to increase supply from Iran.
According to a Reuters report, the oil ministry argues in the memorandum that imports from Iran could be justified at close to 2012/13’s low level of 260,000 bpd and still win a waiver from US sanctions that is tied to cuts of 15 per cent.
Hassan Rouhani will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday as the new president makes his first international appearance on the world stage.
President Obama and and the Iranian leader have both confirmed recently that they have exchanged letters, in a first sign that there could be a thaw in the strained relations between the US and Iran.