New Delhi: A day after announcing that it was further reducing oil imports from Iran, government on Wednesday emphasised it was not done under the pressure of the US which has imposed sanctions against Tehran.

Officials sources said the reduction of oil imports was not happening suddenly, the "actual diminishen" of India's oil imports percentage are happening for the last few years. And to back the remarks, they cited the past figures.

The sources also said the cutting the quantum of crude oil imported by Indian refineries from various sources is decided by them on the basis of technical, commercial and other considerations.

The petroleum ministry had yesterday announced that it was reducing its import target from Iran by 11 percent this financial year to 15.5 million tonnes, a statement that comes barely days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had pressed Indian leadership on the issue during her recent visit here.

"Total crude oil imported from Iran by Indian companies during the period 2010-11 and 2011-12 is 18.50 million tones and 17.44 million tonnes respectively.

"The target fixed for import of crude oil from Iran for the year 2012-13 is approximately 15.5 million tonnes," Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

According to the fresh US sanctions, which are due to come into effect on 28 June, there will be imposition of severe punitive measures against on financial institutions or countries dealing with Tehran. The US State Department had in March said 12 countries, including India and China, were at risk of sanctions because of purchases of Iranian oil.

The US sanctions are to step up pressure on Tehran to comply with international demands over its nuclear programme.


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