US Confirms Talks with India as Launches Iran Action Group

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Washington, DC – The US State Department on Friday confirmed to IAT that Washington is working with Delhi as the Trump Administration reiterated its resolve to “change the regime” of the Iranian government and launched a new Iran Action Group.

Replying to a question from IAT, a US State Department spokesperson said in an email, “We continue to discuss our Iran policy with our Indian counterparts and the implications of our re-imposition of sanctions previously lifted or waived under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).”

“As the President has said, the United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions. On November 5, sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, the Central Bank of Iran, Iran’s shipping sectors, will come into effect,” the spokesperson continued.

“Our goal remains to get to zero oil imports from Iran as quickly as possible, ideally by November 4. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” the spokesperson concluded.

With these threats from the US, there are media reports in India that Delhi is considering “officially” limiting Iranian trade including oil imports. The officials in New Delhi are hopeful about keeping the flow of oil from Iran, and food from India including tea and rice, on a mutually agreeable ongoing Rupee-Rial deal, while the US is demanding oil imports from Iran to be cut down to zero by November 4. With domestic industry in India demanding more and more energy, such a demand from the US seems utopian and India may not be keen to adhere to it.

Pompeo Launches Iran Action Group

Addressing journalists earlier this week at the State Department briefing room, Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State announced the launch of a new Iran Action Group. Pompeo told journalists, “The Iran Action Group will be responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to me.”

Secretary Pompeo said, “We are committed to a whole-of-government effort to change the Iranian regime’s behavior, and the Iran Action Group will ensure that the Department of State remains closely synchronized with our interagency partners.”

Iran Expert Hook

Pompeo also announced that “Brian Hook will lead the Iran Action Group with the formal title of Special Representative for Iran. Brian has served as the Director of Policy Planning here since February of 2017.”

Brian Hook Chief, Iran Action Group
Brian Hook leads the Iran Action Group

Taking questions from journalists, Hook reiterated that the Trump administration is considering to impose secondary sanctions on all countries that buy oil from Iran after a deadline in November, including China.

China imports over one-quarter of Iran’s oil and has made it clear that its trade with Iran is lawful, hence it has no intentions to reduce imports. On a specific question on China under such circumstances, Hook said, “In our sanctions regime, yes, we will – we are prepared to impose secondary sanctions on regimes – I’m sorry, on other governments that continue this sort of trade with Iran.”

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