oil terminal kolkata india
© Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
An oil terminal in Kolkata, India in November 2013.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged India to be tougher when faced with US pressure, at the same time applauding New Delhi's general stance against sanctions.

Zarif shared his thoughts during a meeting with a group of visiting journalists from New Delhi earlier this week, the Hindu Business Line reported. "India has certainly taken a stance against the sanctions... so that's been encouraging, [but] of course, we expected our friends to be more resilient vis-a-vis US pressure," Zarif said.

India stopped buying Iranian oil in May, after the US refused to renew waivers it had previously granted the country. The Iranian diplomat noted that he understood why India "did not want to agitate" the US, but warned that, by bowing down to Washington's pressure, New Delhi placed itself "at the receiving end."
You're already being bullied by the US because they're telling you not to buy oil from us... If you can't lift oil from us, we won't be able to buy Indian rice.
India "can't become the subject of bullying as China is," he stressed.

Washington has employed a mix of threats and sweet talk, trying to convince its partners to join sanctions against Iranian oil trade. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin flew to New Delhi earlier this month, hoping to pit the country against Tehran. Indian officials, however, firmly maintained that good relations with Iran are crucial for ensuring a land-based access to Afghanistan if India's rival Pakistan chooses to close the border.

The European Union has also been reluctant to cut its own trade deal with Iran, while Turkey flatly rejected the call to stop buying Iranian oil and natural gas.

The sanctions against Iran are not the only issue where India has stood its ground against the US in recent months. Indian officials refused to scrap a major deal to buy the S-400 air defense missile system from Russia, arguing that the contract serves India's vital interests.