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India says won't cut Iranian oil imports

Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

India Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced on Sunday that his country will not take steps to cut petroleum imports from Iran despite U.S. and European sanctions against Tehran, the First Post reported.

The U.S. wants buyers in Asia, Iran's biggest oil market, to cut imports to put further pressure on Tehran for its nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful. As a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation regime (NPT), Iran has right to develop nuclear technology for civilian purposes.

India, as the world's fourth-largest oil consumer which imports 12 percent of its oil from the Islamic Republic, cannot do without Iranian oil, Mukherjee said.

"It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them," Mukherjee told reporters in Chicago at the end of a two-day visit aimed at wooing U.S. investment.

New U.S. sanctions, adopted on 31 December, penalize any financial institutions dealing with Iran's central bank.

On January 23, the European Union also formally imposed an oil embargo on Iran and agreed to a freeze on the assets of the Central Bank of Iran, but existing contracts will be honored until July 1.

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