India and Iran

India Event Diary – 13th July 2012, Friday

Major news and events in India today:

Jagdish Shettar sworn in CM
Cancer drug price hike : India refuses

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India Iran relations:

The relations between India and Iran are a bit under strain for sometime, owing to certain geopolitical factors. A recent visit to India, by Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in the last week of May, has brought many issues to the limelight. This visit holds much importance for both the countries, this article discusses some of the major contentious issues which have gripped the India-Iran relations.

The admission by the Indian government that it has sharply reduced the purchase of Iranian crude oil indicates that the pressure exercised by the Barack Obama administration on New Delhi is certainly working. Thought the Indian External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna has defended the stance saying that “With respect to our energy needs, we are dependent on imports to meet the bulk of our requirements. Given our growing demands, it is natural for us to diversify our sources of imports to meet the objectives of energy security”. He further added that “In this context, Iran is a key country for our energy needs. Iran was the gateway for India to the Central Asian Region”.

Then there was the incident in which an Israeli diplomat’s car was attacked in New Delhi, and the Indian investigating agencies have maintained that Iranian nationals were behind the attack. Even though the Iranian authorities have so far stonewalled India’s efforts to send a team to Teheran to probe the attack, Salehi totally refuted the allegations during his visit. Mr.Salehi said that such accusation is a part of a propaganda war to demonise Iran.

Another highlighted issue is the long pending visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Iran. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited New Delhi in 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to make a reciprocal visit the same year, But Washington mounted pressure on New Delhi to distance itself from Tehran. Another point to be noted is India’s vote againse Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) which had put the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project on the backburner. In fact, in May, India formally signed on the rival U.S. backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India(TAPI) pipeline.

India has also voted against Syria in the United Nations Security Council earlier in the year, which suggested that India had lined up with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies that are ranged against Iran on the nuclear issue. But now the time has come, that India needs to be represented at the highest level at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to be held in Tehran in August, as India is a founder member of the movement and it has already received the invitation during Iran’s Foreign Minister’s visit. So, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have to visit Tehran in August, whether Washington likes it or not.

Although, one positive development is that India recognizes Iran’s right to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And also that New Delhi will not implement the additional sanctions imposed by the west.