US diplomats on IB radar over Iran oil imports

Vol 16, PW 10 (29 Nov 12) People & Policy

India’s domestic spy agency is concerned that some of the eight US officials who came to India this month (November) ostensibly to lobby for an end to Iranian oil imports are also exploring how the US can secure a foothold in India’s strategic northeast.

Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources tell us that US diplomat Dr Robert F. Ichord Jr.

and Ambassador Carlos Pascual arrived in Delhi on November 17. Their visit was well timed - next month (December) marks the end of the six-month exemption granted by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to India from financial sanctions over Iranian oil imports.

The IB is concerned that Ichord and Pascual were here to lobby India to cease all Iranian oil imports once the exemption ends. Also linked is a visit to Mumbai by Jerome Powell, a US Federal Reserve governor.

Powell led a five-member delegation to Mumbai from November 24 to 27 to meet private and foreign bankers and Reserve Bank of India officials, feels the IB, to track payments for Iranian crude oil. But Iran is not the only adversary the US is targeting through India.

China is also in its sights. “The US has long wanted a foothold in Arunachal Pradesh to keep watch on Chinese troop movements across the border,” adds our IB source.

An external affairs ministry spokesman confirmed Ambassador Pascual’s visit. “I can say he must have certainly met Vikram Doraiswamy, joint secretary Americas (at the foreign ministry) in addition to officials at the Planning Commission and the oil ministry,” said the spokesman.

“Pascual’s visit is in connection with our energy needs and energy sector co-operation with the US. We see this visit as positive rather than negative over Iran or other matters.