Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3579, 27 February 2012
US, Iran and Israel: India in a Diplomatic Bind
Sitakanta Mishra
Research Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) & Associate Editor, Indian Foreign Affairs Journal
email: sitakant@gmail.com

The kind of response that Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into the Parchin nuclear site may provoke from the US-Israel-Europe axis is a matter of speculation. Although many options to curtail Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons ambition are being considered, the use of India’s leverage over Iran is being strongly urged by the US and its allies. India is certainly in a ‘diplomatic bind’ as all those involved in the stand-off are important to its national interest. A diplomatic fine-balancing and the conveyance of a strong message on India’s compelling concerns is the way out of this bind.

Perceptibly, three strings are attached to India’s current diplomatic bind over the Iranian nuclear issue: energy security, pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation, and strategic partnerships with major powers. Should the tryst for energy security gag India when it comes to taking a stand on nuclear weapons proliferation and nurturing India’s strategic partnerships with the US and Israel? Two straightforward policy options are available: choosing the US-Israel-Europe axis or remaining neutral. Neither way is not toll-free.

To address the concerns of the West, New Delhi has to abruptly stop 10 per cent of its total crude oil import and the entirety of trade with Iran, which has heavy economic repercussions. Disengaging Iran would also affect India’s presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia as Iran is the conduit that enables connectivity. Any military action by the West will necessitate the immediate repatriation of six million Indians in West Asia. On the domestic front, the Left parties and the Muslim population would up the ante on UPA government’s pro-US foreign policy strategy.

Remaining neutral would be equally difficult and India’s pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation would be questioned vigorously. Its nuclear energy networking and strategic partnership with the US would be under stress. Defence technology imports from Israel are also bound to be affected. The anti-India lobby in the US would gain momentum, hampering India’s international clout.

Is there a way out of this binary option? A fine-balancing of the three – USA, Israel, and Iran – with an innovative diplomatic endeavour should be attempted. The UPA government should, at the earliest, announce the cancellation of the trade delegation supposed to travel to Iran. This can be rescheduled for a later date. More importantly, India must dispatch all party delegations to the concerned state capitals to strongly convey three important messages which are vital to India’s nationhood.

First, India must convey both to the US and Israel that it “does not fancy a situation in which it might have to choose one nation over the other” by overlooking its national interest. This might in fact give rise to Cold War bloc politics which is completely against India’s foreign policy ideals. A strategic partnership denotes an understanding of each others’ vital national concerns and accommodation in a mutually acceptable manner. India’s strategic partnership with the US is important, and differences of opinion should not derail the evolving cooperation between the two. The manner in which India chooses to deal with Iran is neither ‘a slap on USA’s face’ nor inconsistent with India’s non-proliferation credentials. Considering US concerns over Iran, India has already reduced its dependence on Iranian crude oil import from 16 per cent in 2008-09 to 10 per cent in 2012. It will further reduce it when alternative options are available; but not abruptly. And if Iran’s nuclear weapons programme is proved, India would undoubtedly condemn and vote against it.

Second, India needs to emphasize to both the US and EU the limits of sanctions against a nation’s nuclear weapons ambition. This approach has never worked; sanctions and aggressing posturing would only strengthen Iran’s resolve (if any) to acquire nuclear weapons. A technical-legal approach is insufficient to address nuclear weapons proliferation. A sustained dialogue by addressing Iran’s, as well as the region’s security concerns would help de-escalate the West-Iran stand-off.

Third, India must convey strongly convey to Iran that New Delhi will have no sympathy for its clandestine nuclear weapons programme and for evading its obligations under the non-proliferation regime. Teheran must cooperate with the IAEA and furnish necessary answers to the questions raised. In fact, India would not like to see another nuclear weapons state in its backyard which would make the neighbourhood tenser. It will go to any extent in response to a proxy war against Israel in Indian territory. India would like to continue the unrestricted export of a range of items to Iran under the UN sanctions, but it will stand firm on non-proliferation issues.

Undoubtedly, along with unique challenges, this occasion has brought India an opportunity to be a forceful stake-holder in an intricate global issue. Instead of choosing one against the other and indulging in somebody else’s war, India must be careful to calibrate close ties simultaneously with the US and Israel, while maintaining delicate ties with Iran, all of which should be diplomatically tenable and pragmatic. This, therefore, is the time for proactive diplomatic posturing to balance the imperatives of India’s energy security, strategic partnerships and pursuit of non-proliferation simultaneously.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Aryaman Bhatnagar,
"Iran’s American 'Problem' in Afghanistan," 14 February 2012
J Jeganaathan,
"India’s Iran Dilemma: Nuclear Fuel or Crude Oil?," 18 January 2012
Anureet Rai,
"Isolating Iran: Is it Counter-Productive?," 30 November 2011

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Nuclear Security Summit 2014: India’s Record

Indian Vice-President's Central Asia Visit

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.