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Should the PM avoid cosying upto Iran?
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B Raman | Date:29 Aug , 2012 6 Comments
B Raman
Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with the Minister Economic Affairs and Finance, Iran, Dr Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini

The Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, has gone to Teheran to attend the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. His participation in the summit will provide him with an opportunity to meet leaders from important countries of the NAM and to have another round of bilateral talks with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan. Even if nothing substantive and substantial comes out of his meeting with Zardari, it will still be useful to keep the bilateral dialogue process going despite Pakistan’s uncooperative attitude in dealing with terrorism and Psyjihad emanating from Pakistani territory.

Our strategic and national security interests should be the decisive factor in our policy-making towards Israel, the US and Iran.

India no longer plays the kind of leadership role in NAM as it used to in the past.We don’t have to shed tears over it. While multilateral relationships are still important in economic matters, bilateral relations need to have greater priority in our national interest.

We have to carefully weigh the relative importance of our bilateral relations with Israel, the US and Iran before deciding whether any new policy initiatives are required in our relations with Iran. I do not think so.

We tend to be emotional in discussing our relations with Iran with deep nostalgic references to the civilizational links with Iran.Iranian leaders and analysts too  talk of this civilizational relationship, but without any sign of nostalgia or emotion.

When Iran decided to start a covert war against Israel through acts of terrorism against Israeli nationals and interests in the territories of other countries having an Israeli presence, it chose India as one of its anti-Israeli covert warfare grounds.It tried to orchestrate the killing of an Israeli national working in the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi last February.

It did not allow any nostalgic or emotional attachment to its relations with India to come in the way of its sponsoring an act of terrorism against an Israeli national in our territory. It would not hesitate to sponsor another act of terrorism against Israel in our territory if a favourable opportunity presented itself without bothering aboutits impact on its bilateral ties with India.

Iran’s attitude on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India has been ambivalent. Its support for Indian interests in Afghanistan is uncertain.

Our strategic and national security interests should be the decisive factor in our policy-making towards Israel, the US and Iran. Yes, Iran has been an important factor in our energy security. But in other dimensions of national security, its role has been minimal and will continue to be so.It has no security-related modern technology. Its attitude on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India has been ambivalent. Its support for Indian interests in Afghanistan is uncertain.If it acquires a Shia A-bomb, we will be faced with  Sunni as well as Shia bombs.

Our strategic and national security interests should dictate a careful nursing of our relations with Israel and the US, both of which have been more beneficial to us than Iran.Both have modern security-related technologies.Israel has never hesitated to share its technologies with India—-even sensitive ones.The US is not as willing as Israel, but its attitude should improve as our bilateral relations improve.We have common strong interests with Israel and the US in countering jihadi terrorism.The intelligence agencies of India, Israel and the US have had a long history of co-operation in the exchange of intelligence.India shares a common interest with Israel and the US in monitoring and countering malign nuclear developments in Pakistan and Iran.

We should maintain our present economic relations with Iran so long as international circumstances and Iran’s willingness permit it. Where the importance of our economic relations with Iran come into conflict with the requirements of our national security, which demand continued close relations with Israel and the US, strategic and security considerations should prevail over economic.

If one day Iran stops its energy supplies to India, we can find alternate sources.But if we allow emotional considerations relating to Iran affect the strengthening of our strategic and national security related ties with Israel and the US, we cannot find equally beneficial and dependable alternate strategic partners.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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6 thoughts on “Should the PM avoid cosying upto Iran?

  1. Manomohan Singh began to learn about security matters after he became prime minister. This is very late for a PM to start learning the most important matter facing a great nation.

    God help India because there is no PM in the wings who has a good idea of security and strength.

  2. Singh of October 1 at 11:34 am simply DOES NOT get it! He’s out of touch with reality! More, he’s living in yesteryear!

    Has he forgotten that Iran supported Pakistan against India in two wars? Has he also forgotten that the USA supported India against China in 1962 and still does? Has he forgotten that the Muslim jihadists from Pakistan to Gaza support terrorist outfits acting against India in J&K?

    Rather than have “good relations” with Iran, it is better to have Iran within our cross-hairs. Rather than depend on oil, it is better for India to develop alternate resources. Mr. Singh of 11:34 does not understand the real resource situation and crisis in the world today.

  3. Israel gets the large majority of it’s defence technology from the US – with technology transfer in most cases. Israel then learns this technology, improves upon it , adds to it and then will sell it to any country which will not use it against israel. This includes selling defence products and technology to china – which will one day use it to threaten or attack India. So, India is not special in terms of Israeli defence equipment exports – don’t kid yourself! The Israelis will sell to the highest bidder and they will always be supported by the US in the forseeable future – after all, the Jews represent about 15% of elected officials in the US Senate and Congress. They also control a large portion of the US’ wealth and therefore have control over US policy towards Israel and it’s foreign policy wherever Israel is concerned. Having good relations with Iran (and Afghanistan) are essential for India as both these countries are in it’s neighbourhood and will help India contain the threat to it’s interests from the china-pakistan partnership and also allow India to increase it’s influence in Central Asia. Who will supply oil to India instead of Iran? Saudi Arabia? Saudi Arabia is ruled by it’s corrupt royal house of Saud and is a stooge of the US and gives ample aid to pakistan and always supports against India. India needs to diversify it’s energy suppliers, but not at the expense of Iran. Remember, the US has always supported pakistan against India – irregardless of what it says in public. The US has not been a trustworthy friend (atleast not until now) and it is in India’s best interests not to get into bed with the US – not yet.

  4. Such issues are carried out without any participation / discussions at people level as Delhi thinks they only know Diplomacy. Pm must address India and indicate our policy towards Other Nations clearly and articulate well on the advantages etc. Indians are anyway never addressed at a national level other than 1 day at Redfort which is anyway a motion

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