India Intelligence Report

 

 

   Confusion on Iran as Deadline Passes

 

EU Foreign Ministers have cautioned against hasty decisions, including sanctions, on Iran even as the US said military action against Tehran “is not off the table” and some say that India ’s relations with Iran may arrest the development of Indo-US relations.

 

 

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EU Foreign Ministers have cautioned against hasty decisions, including sanctions, on Iran even as the US said military action against Tehran “is not off the table” and some say that India ’s relations with Iran may arrest the development of Indo-US relations. In an apparent bid to give diplomacy yet another chance, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana will meet Iranian Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Larijani next week as a prelude to a September 7 meeting of Western nations to devise a strategy to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Iran deliberately disregarded United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1696 demanding it to stop its nuclear enrichment program sparking speculation that the West may now seriously pursue a sanction route. While US and EU officials said that they will not initiate action against Tehran before the Solana-Larijani meeting, there are some quarters in the US demanding military strikes against nuclear facilities to cripple the program. Days before the lapse of the deadline, Iran launched a heavy-water production plant to further its insignificantly small enriching program at its pilot centrifuge site in Natanz and Pentagon says that this will end in a nuclear bomb 5-8 years hence.

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, a Cold Warrior and hardliner on Iran said the “responsibility for protecting the American people” includes “military option” because of a perceived threat from “ Iran armed with nuclear weapons.” Bolton however insists that “peaceful and diplomatic means” are the US ’s “preferred way of dealing with this problem” of Iran refusing to suspend “uranium enrichment activity.” While refusing to discuss strategy, he said that “moving for sanctions in the Security Council, considering other economic steps, ramping up the Proliferation Security Initiative” are options that the world should consider. He reminded the Russians and Chinese that they had promised to adopt sanctions in June when they passed the resolution and speculated that they may not “veto a resolution” even though they “may not support it” and could “acquiesce” by “abstaining” leaving the ground free for the “Council could act.” Bolton also said that “lot of countries can impose sanctions on Iran without actions by the Security Council” and cited “the European Union, Japan” and others who could avoid trade and ties with Tehran .

However, Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reminded the US that “We take into account the experience of the past and we cannot ally ourselves with ultimatums, which all lead to a dead end.” In fact, that is exactly what hard-line stance on this issue has turned out to be. By setting unenforceable deadlines, the EU and the US have painted themselves into a corner where they will look weak if they do not act and create serious strategic, military, and economic consequences, not to mention look ridiculous, if they do.

Reading this bluff clearly, Tehran has played the so-called P5 members very well dividing them on these grounds and paralyzing the UNSC while insisting on talks that has no meaning or for which it has not real intention of negotiation. By a clever use of diplomacy calling for talks, it has dangerously flirted with threats to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), use of missiles  against occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, disrupting energy trading, and disrupting trade in the Suez Canal. Its 21-page reply to the Western offer has not been disclosed but many officials say that the content has evaded the international community’s key demand to halt nuclear enrichment. Solana says that the West needs to “get some understanding of the elements of the document” as it is “not clear enough” and a “face to face could clarify” the incoherence.

Some nuclear Ayatollahs in the US , such as Institute for Science and International Security President David Albright say that the Iranian nuclear program’s progress “is far less than expected” and it is not clear if this is “because of technical problems or self restraint.” This supposed lack of progress will make it impossible for the US to “deliver on its promise to get hard sanctions.” However, the official line from US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns is that the US is “going to move this toward a sanctions resolution at the United Nations” and that it expects “others to join” this move.

Unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials say that they have not found “any concrete proof” that Iran was developing nuclear weapons but its report said “ Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities.” Tehran says that this report is “not negative” and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed to “not back down an inch in the face of intimidation, aggression and will not accept being deprived of its rights” and not “renounce peaceful nuclear energy and its absolute right” as a signatory of the NPT.

Meanwhile, a Congressional Research Service report in the US believes that New Delhi ’s friendship with Teheran could affect Indo-US relations. Authors Alan Kronstadt and Kenneth Katzman say with the January 2003 New Delhi Declaration the “two countries launched a strategic partnership with the signing of seven substantive agreements.” And this largely positive relationship they say “could become a significant obstacle to further development of US-India ties” which has “grown both deeper and more expansive.” They however do believe that “India-Iran relations are unlikely to derail the further development of a US-India global partnership.” India ’s “relatively benign” view Iran ’s nuclear program and its disagreement with the US of Iran’s regionally aggressive posture have found sharp criticism among policy makers in the US . Democrat Tom Lantos from California , a hardliner and holocaust survivor and virulently anti-Indian, surprised everyone by supporting the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal has been harshly critical of Indian support for Iran . Further, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said that “The US has made very clear to India that we have concerns about their relationship with Iran .”

The authors noted that there is a sizeable constituency linking New Delhi-Teheran relations with Indo-US relations and cited opposition in India to US pressure to limit close ties with Tehran . They say that this same group has also been critical of the nuclear deal suspicious of US motives and does not want it to be at the cost of Indo-Iran relations. Despite such domestic opposition, India voted against Iran at the IAEA last September. The report also noted that “In recent years there have been occasional revelations of Indian transfers to Iran of technology that could be useful for Iran ’s purported weapons of mass destruction.”

The US has imposed sanctions on 3 chemical (or services) companies and 2 Indian nuclear scientists under the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-proliferation Act for their supposed assistance to Iran . However, there is no evidence that India provided any significant military assistance to Iran during the war with Iraq , which ended in 1988. Supposedly, Iran also sought Indian help in 1993 to help develop batteries for the three Russian-built Kilo-class submarines and is still seeking “Indian advice in operating Iran ’s missile boats, refitting of Iran ’s T-72 tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and upgrades for its MiG-29 fighters.” India and Iran co-operated in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and is also negotiating to build a pipeline to carry natural gas to energy deficient India which some US officials find “unacceptable.”