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What Is India News Service
Tuesday, January 23, 2007



 

 

 

 Personality-Neutral Relations with Iran

  In an act of militant defiance in response to the second US aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis into the Persian Gulf, Iran tested short range Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles ostensibly to evaluate “defensive and fighting capabilities of the missiles.”
 

 

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In an act of militant defiance in response to the second US aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis into the Persian Gulf, Iran tested short range Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles ostensibly to evaluate “defensive and fighting capabilities of the missiles.” The arrival of a second carrier and the US distribution of Patriot to regional allies and the deployment of several squadrons of fighter aircraft in Turkey in the last few weeks rattled some hard-line leadership. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared unfazed and nonchalantly dismissed observations that the UNSC sanctions have hurt his nation’s economy.

Asserting that the “The (UN) resolution was delivered dead,” Ahmadinejad that even “ten more similar resolutions will not affect our economy and our policy.” Accusing the US of manufacturing consent by floating reports of serious inflation in Iran, he says that the reports were false “to imply” economic trouble. Ahmadinejad was elected to power last in a controversial runoff election based on a populist agenda promising to share oil revenues with the people as President Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela. Despite high oil prices, Ahmadinejad has been unable to deliver on this promise. Worse, with oil prices crashing to below USD 50 a barrel, that promise of a cash-starved Iran seems impossible. Strangely, he blames the West for “bringing down the price of oil” and says that his nation will not depend on oil revenues anymore. With increased international isolation, trade sanctions in the works, large military budget, crumbling infrastructure, and minimal investment, it is unclear where he will find the source of funds.

As much as Ahmadinejad likes to mask the trouble, it is clear that Iranians do not need outsiders to tell them that inflation is thrice as much higher than the government declared 10% and unemployment is thrice as high as the government estimates of 11%. This was reflected in recent elections when the hard-line President’s candidates were routed by the moderate ones Iran Sanctions, Shaky Azeri Relations and over 150 parliaments who were erstwhile hardliners cheering him on {signed a letter of discontentment Halted Support for US Iraq Strategy.

Late last year, Iran conducted a massive military exercise code named “ultra horizon” to test radar evading Fajr-3 missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads and targeting multiple targets simultaneously. Some of these missiles are capable of reaching Israel, which Ahmadinejad wishes to wipe off the map, Washington’s allies in the region, and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Insisting that Tehran is overselling its military capabilities, {Washington and Te Aviv have leaked war plans Israel Plans to Strike Iran in a bid to sober Iran’s abrasive foreign policy. Much to the chagrin of some its peers in the UNSC, US officials have consistently declined ruling out military options, although they say that would be a last resort alternative. Reinforcing the mood in Washington, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns warned that the UNSC sanctions were only the beginning that Iran will receive and may “suffer the consequences of being an international pariah.”

Given these realities, there is a strong likelihood that Iran may forsake its President and in turn adopt a more moderate role. India’s Iran policy must not be driven by power centers in Tehran but in long term interests. At the top of the agenda must the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) deal with Iran’s National Iranian Gas Export Corporation (NIGEC) [Insert Iran Withdraws from LNG Deal followed by the strategic road linking Iran to Afghanistan from Delaram to Zalranj. Another major area of long-term relations will be investments in upstream and downstream activities in the oil sector. Recently, an 18-member Iranian delegation visited India inviting investment in food and medicine, chemical and cellulose, textiles and leather, electrical and electronic, dairy products, and cotton and synthetic fiber. They also wanted to cooperate with India on railways, telecommunication, water and power sector, paper and pulp, textile, cement, human resource development by training and skill enhancement.

By focusing on economic, cultural, and social ties, India needs to side-step the imbroglio between Iran and the US and at the same time enhance long term financial, social, and political ties with Tehran.

 

 

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