Peter Morris' book Power (1987) has been celebrated for including the first systematic study of the question, 'Where does the thirst to acquire "power" lead to?' He defines power as "a symbolically generated medium of communication which reduces complexity and allows calculus". Even a cursory reading of the day-to-day international events affirms its harsh reality. Nations are eying for clear-cut gains and find it difficult to carry moral baggage. India's support to the resolution against Iran will show the particular 'morality' of national interest, a compelling reason of state, different from national morality.
India's support for the resolution is to be analyzed in the wake of the Indo-US nuclear deal. India says it supported the resolution after the draft was changed to give time for negotiations and it does not have anything to do with the nuclear deal with the US. During his talks with Bush, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had affirmed that India was not holding a brief or alibi for Iran's nuclear programme and that 'another nuclear weapons power in the neighbourhood was not good'. India has maintained that Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), must fulfil its international obligations and, at the same time, diplomacy must be given maximum scope to resolve the issue. It was a position of principle, based on India's conviction on nuclear disarmament, even as it was cloaked in 'national interest'.
Iran is unhappy that India voted in favour of the IAEA resolution, while its key allies and trading partners China and Russia abstained. It is interesting to note the international response on this issue. The United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Argentina, Belgium, Ghana, Ecuador, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovakia, Japan, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, and India voted for the resolution. Pakistan, Algeria, Yemen, Brazil, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Vietnam abstained, while Venezuela voted against the resolution. With 22 votes for the resolution, 12 abstentions and only one vote against, the outcome highlighted the split between Western nations and the rest, which disagree with Washington and Europe on how to deal with Iran's nuclear activities.
India, which had originally opposed the EU resolution, inexplicably voted for it. There were indications that the option of abstention, along with Russia, China and the non-aligned bloc was considered but it was ruled out because it would have only served to reinforce the signal of ambiguity from New Delhi. In addition, India outweighed its promising relationship of 'strategic partnership' with US against its burgeoning relationship of 'utility' with Iran.
Even an elementary knowledge of the events would indicate India's dilemma in taking stand on this issue. Indian policy planners have made it abundantly clear - at least so far - that they prefer to pursue pragmatic friendships with both Iran and the United States. Iran figures a lot in India's national security interests as a nation with which a strategic relationship is most desirable. The mutual convergences between India and Iran have resulted in asserting and crafting a "strategic partnership" as highlighted in the Teheran Declaration (2001) and the Delhi Declaration (2003). India needs Iranian oil to satisfy its growing thirst for energy. Iran offers a significant and vast market in close proximity for India's trade and industry. It also views Iran as a passageway for trade with Central Asia and Afghanistan. Moreover, with the world's second-largest Shia Muslim population, India was not prepared to face the wrath of offending sensibilities in a Shia-majority country.
Though Iran figures a lot in India's (energy) security interests, US figured a great deal in India's quest for becoming a global power. India today views a strong relationship with the United States as a key to gaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and for its acceptance as a legitimate nuclear power. India wanted to prove that it is a strong supporter of global non-proliferation objectives. This move by India is also seen as an attempt to convince the non-proliferation lobby in the US that is actively mobilizing Congressional opinion against the nuclear deal with India.
During his visit to Iran earlier this month, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh expressed New Delhi's support for Tehran's peaceful civil nuclear energy programme - an assertion that did not go down well with the US, which made it an issue during Manmohan Singh's meeting with US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the UN summit. India's decision to support the resolution has to be seen in the backdrop of these and several other questions of national interests.