Iran General NewsTehran Tries to Cultivate India as an Ally

Tehran Tries to Cultivate India as an Ally

-

The Wall Street Journal: With world attention focused on Iran’s steady progress toward a nuclear bomb, it has been easy to miss the Islamic Republic’s initiatives on another front — South Asia, where Tehran has been busy cultivating India as an ally. Iran’s relationship with India is not new. Strong cultural and political ties date back many centuries and include periods of both tension and friendship. Now that relationship is entering a new stage that should be of particular concern to the U.S. The Wall Street Journal

By CHRISTOPHER KELLEY

With world attention focused on Iran’s steady progress toward a nuclear bomb, it has been easy to miss the Islamic Republic’s initiatives on another front — South Asia, where Tehran has been busy cultivating India as an ally.

Iran’s relationship with India is not new. Strong cultural and political ties date back many centuries and include periods of both tension and friendship. Now that relationship is entering a new stage that should be of particular concern to the U.S.

In early January, Tehran and New Delhi concluded a landmark 25-year energy deal, under which the Islamic Republic agreed to supply India with at least 7.5 million tons of natural gas annually beginning in 2009. As part of the accord, India also acquired a substantial foothold in the Iranian energy sector.

Despite American objections, the two countries are also in the final stages of negotiations over building a natural gas liquefaction facility in Iran with an annual capacity of nine million tons, as well as a $4 billion, 1,725 mile gas pipeline from Iran to India.

Energy cooperation only scratches the surface of what is emerging as a key strategic partnership for Tehran. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami’s visit to New Delhi in January 2003 yielded a key strategic cooperation agreement that included military deals worth some $25 billion. This was a coup for India, which has become a major producer of Russian military hardware and sees in Iran a significant client for its defense industry.

According to Jane’s Defense Weekly and Defense News, Tehran and New Delhi inked a secret defense agreement in 2003 providing India with access to Iranian military bases in the event of a war with regional rival Pakistan. This is hardly surprising; both nations have mutual concerns regarding security threats that could emerge from Pakistan, particularly if Islamic radicals ever succeeded in toppling Gen. Pervez Musharraf from power.

Movement is also visible on other fronts. In July, Iran and India finalized a $150 million deal to upgrade facilities and cargo capacity in the southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar, and to build a 375 kilometer rail link from there to the city of Bam. The new infrastructure will expand India’s access to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states — countries vital as sources of raw materials to drive Indian industry and as export markets for Indian goods.

Given India’s rapidly growing economy (some 8% annually), its energy needs are expected to balloon over the next two decades — making Iran, with the world’s second largest natural-gas reserves, an attractive investment opportunity.

Just as significant, however, India’s new focus on cooperation with Iran reflects a substantial reorientation of policy in New Delhi. Under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India had explored economic and energy ties with Iran but stopped short of forging any serious partnerships. Since the unexpected electoral defeat of the BJP last spring, however, India’s new Congress Party government appears to have embraced the idea of an expanded partnership with Tehran.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to put a damper on Tehran’s plans when she visited India in March. Ms. Rice expressed Washington’s formal objections to the Indo-Iranian pipeline, and offered New Delhi attractive alternatives to cooperation with Tehran in the form of advanced U.S. nuclear technology and a large-scale Indo-American “energy dialogue.” Washington has even dangled the possibility of sales of high-tech F-16 and F-18 jet fighters to New Delhi as a means of offsetting similar sales to Pakistan.

Such steps are key to diffusing Iran’s growing inroads on the Indian subcontinent. So far though, they have proven to be the exception rather than the rule. Washington needs to adequately appreciate the strategic importance of the growing Tehran-New Delhi entente. It is a partnership that, if left unaddressed, could undermine some of the advances made by the Bush administration in its ties with India — and profoundly alter the correlation of forces in a critical front in the war on terror.

U.S. policymakers need to spare no effort in convincing their counterparts in New Delhi that a partnership with the U.S. serves India’s purposes much better than a sinister symbiosis with Iran.

Mr. Kelley is a researcher at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.

Latest news

Iranian People’s Resistance Changed the Appeasement Policy

Soon after the new US government started its obligations in January 2021, hand in hand with the European governments...

Khamenei’s Disgraceful Campaign Against Piranshahr and Javanrud, Who Will Be the Loser?

On the 67th day of Iran’s revolution, the Iranian regime attempted to put a halt to the protests in...

Iran: Expensive Medicine, Cheap Human Life

A look at the equipment and weapons that the Iranian regime has been using against its people to suppress...

Who Is Abolqasem Salavati Iran Regime’s Killer Judge?

Last week, it was announced that the case of several people who were arrested during the Iranian People's uprising...

Iran Revolution Characteristics

More than two months have passed since the start of the latest round of protests in Iran against the...

Iran’s Regime Is Unable To Eradicate Protests

Totalitarian governments, whether be it a monarchy or a clerical regime, and their international supporters are pursuing the same...

Must read

Iran economists warn Ahmadinejad on inflation

AFP: More than 50 Iranian economists have written an...

Iran to use long-range radar, boost air defenses, Fars reports

Bloomberg: Iran plans to install long-range radar systems in...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you