India’s MRPL Set to Seal 250,000T Iran Diesel Deal

A03825926.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Indian refiner MRPL will soon conclude a deal to sell 250,000 tons of diesel to Iran over the next eight months, its managing director said on Wednesday, replacing Reliance Industries as a major supplier to the OPEC member.

MRPL sold its first spot cargo to Iran last month as the Iranian National Oil Co sought new suppliers after India’s Reliance halted sales.

“It is being finalized, in the next couple of days we have to inform them that we have agreed,” R. Rajamani told Reuters. “We will be supplying one parcel each month.”

A source told Reuters a month ago that MRPL was in talks with Iran, and that the Indian refiner would be able to sidestep the payment problems that Reliance faced by settling its deals through the government-run State Bank of India.

Iran is forced to import motor fuels due to a lack of production, and this winter bought diesel from as far afield as Singapore after Reliance stopped supplies in the second half of last year.

MRPL annually imports around 120,000 bpd crude from Iran for use at its 194,000 barrels-per-day coastal refinery in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, but Rajamani said its supply agreement would remain separate from the diesel deal.

Although West’s illegitimate pressures have made it somehow difficult for some companies to finance trade with Iran, Tehran has been able to maintain a steady flow of imports from a host of suppliers by making alternative credit arrangements.

The US-led West is in a row with the Islamic Republic over the latter’s progress in the field of nuclear technology. The United States and its Western allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran has denied the charges and insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and says it will only negotiate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN agency’s questions about the history of its nuclear program.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

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