Iran issued fresh warnings to India, threatening to halt crude oil supplies if the issue of outstanding payments of more than $5bn is not resolved.

“If the Iranian side feels it cannot receive the money for its exported oil punctually and under desirable conditions, it will reconsider [crude exports to India]”, says Ramin Mehmanparast, foreign ministry spokesman, AFP news agency reports.

An unnamed Iranian oil official is reported to have said on 18 July that crude deliveries to India for August would be withheld unless the payment problems are resolved. Mehmanparast commented that Iran “will review the issue. If there is a problem, the transaction will be halted. If there are no problems, it will continue”.

Importing some 400,000 barrels a day (b/d) of Iranian crude, India is Iran’s second largest buyer after China. However, it has been unable to pay for its imports for more than six months. The two countries have been negotiating a new payment mechanism following the closure of numerous banking channels by enhanced US and UN sanctions (MEED 25:5:11).

The Central Bank of Iran estimates India’s overdue payments amount to $5bn.