Oil payments row: Iran sings the same old tune

After making reassuring noises only a few days back that a long standing payments row over crude oil exports to India was close to resolution and that it would take no steps to precipitate a crisis, Iran has apparently issued a fresh round of threats stating it will halt crude exports to India if outstanding payments were not cleared before 1 August.

The official Fars news agency quoted an unnamed Iranian oil ministry official as saying on Monday that Iran does not want to halt oil shipments to India indefinitely but would halt deliveries scheduled for August should India fail to pay its debt to this Shiite Islamic Republic.

Iran is India's second biggest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and accounts for 17-20% of India's oil imports.

India is Asia's third largest oil consumer.

Also on Monday, Central Bank of Iran governor, Mahmoud Bahmani, acknowledged that negotiations were on-going with India over outstanding amount, which now stands at five billion dollars.

Here Bahmani corrected earlier reports that the figure was $9 billion.