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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

How much help are we getting from India on Iranian sanctions?

By Jennifer Rubin

Last week, I praised the Obama administration for bolstering our relationship with India, noting that we had secured India's co-operation in "tighten[ing] the web of sanctions around Iran."

But it's not clear if that enthusiasm was premature. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

Days after India's government clamped down on the main conduit Indian companies use to pay for Iranian oil, New Delhi and Tehran have opened a temporary channel for transactions, a senior Indian official said Tuesday--one that involves routing payments through an Iranian bank that is already under U.S. sanctions.

The move essentially moves India from one uncomfortable spot into another, and could place Indian firms at loggerheads with the U.S. legal system. Under U.S. legislation enacted in July, any foreign firm dealing with Iranian entities sanctioned by Washington could also find itself banned from conducting business inside the U.S.

The Journal reported that the U.S. government has raised its concerns with India about the "Clearing Union, a trade-finance clearinghouse through which Iran does most of its business with India."

The revelation that the government of India "advised oil companies to open individual accounts with government-owned State Bank of India--India's largest lender--which has a branch in Frankfurt," rather than directly with the blacklisted Iranian Trade Bank points to the shortcomings of sanctions.

A subsequent story in the Journal today assures us that "State Bank of India will take suitable precautions to avoid possible U.S. sanctions due to any dealings with the blacklisted Hamburg-based European-Iranian Trade Bank AG, a senior Indian finance ministry official said Wednesday." Nevertheless, "The official didn't say what precautions SBI would take to avoid any potential U.S. action."

The episode illustrates the difficulty of interrupting economic transactions between Iran and other nations. Given the plethora of international arrangements, as well as the subterfuge practiced by both Iran and Western banks, the sanctions are hardly an immediate or perfect mechanism for isolating the Iranian regime.

None of this should suggest that an enhanced relationship with India isn't in our interest. It plainly is. India responded quickly to the reported efforts to evade sanctions. Moreover, apart from Iran, the opportunity to broaden our relationship with India still exits.

The real lesson of this episode is that we should be circumspect about India's -- or any country's -- ability and willingness to turn off the flow of cash to the revolutionary Islamic regime.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 6, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Iran, foreign policy  
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Comments

The real lesson of this episode is that we should be circumspect about India's -- or any country's -- ability and willingness to turn off the flow of cash to the revolutionary Islamic regime.
By Jennifer Rubin

A perfect example of a person who is gung ho for global capitalism and free trade except when it interferes with their ideology/political agenda. Why aren't WE competing with and winning that business from our Iranian competitors?

Posted by: rcaruth | January 6, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Has the government of Iran ever indulged in bombing American civilians in Chicago, New York and LA? Has Iran ever hijacked American passenger aircraft and slit throats of American travellers?

NO!

But Pakistan has done above and more to India for decades...How much "help" did India get from the USA????!!!

Other than the US "help" of propping up a religious esclusivist, jihadi terrorist enterprise right next to India for 63 years with billions and billions of aid money and military weapons?

Indeed...Be "circumspect".

Posted by: Netizen1 | January 6, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"The real lesson of this episode is that we should be circumspect about India's -- or any country's -- ability and willingness to turn off the flow of cash to the revolutionary Islamic regime."

The REAL lesson is that Jennifer has two obsessions, Israel and Iran. Every US relationship with every nation in the world MUST be viewed exclusively through this prism.

It is yet another example of what I wrote about earlier today of her wanting things in foreign policy that are diamterically opposed, but acting as if there was no conflict.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 6, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"The real lesson of this episode is that we should be circumspect about India's -- or any country's -- ability and willingness to turn off the flow of cash to the revolutionary Islamic regime.
By Jennifer Rubin"

The real lesson is that the US played it's hand with the WMD debacle and has no currency left in international diplomatic circles.

The otehr real lesson is that there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and as such, no one but the handful or remaining US psycophants is towing the line on this charade.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | January 9, 2011 2:48 AM | Report abuse

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