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Iranian Nuclear Deal: Implications
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By Dr. Kashi N. Pandita Two regional states have viewed the Iranian nuclear deal with scepticism, albeit for different reasons. Prime Minister of Israel calls it “a big historical mistake.” He doubts Iran’s sincerity. It could be a cover for clandestinely carrying forward her nuclear programme hence existential threat for the State of Israel. The hawks in the US Congress and some in the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee also doubt Ira’s sincerity. Allying their fears, Secretary of State Kerry told the Committee that if Iran reneged, economic and other sanctions would continue. He added that it had taken ten long years of hard work to bring about the deal. Israel’s scepticism arises from Iran’s rabid hostility towards her. Ex-President Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel vitriol still bemuses us. It was Khomeini who had said that the road to Qods runs through Israel. Israel believes that continued sanctions would have forced Iran to make more concessions and even roll back her nuclear programme. Unlike Israel, Saudi Arabia’s disapproval of the deal is rooted in political threat. Saudis think the US has betrayed Riyadh, and kept the deal hidden from them. Iran-Saudi acrimony stems from their long rivalry for monopolising ecclesiastical leadership of the Muslim world. When Khomeini rose to power, he said that monarchy was alien to Islam, and that the Imamate of the Mecca was not the sole right of the Saudi ruling house. Don’t forget that the Mecca riots then left nearly 400 Iranian hajj pilgrims dead. Saudis look at Iranians as proselytes or second class Muslims because of their Zoroastrian ancestry. This is why the Ayatollahs in the post-revolution period initiated suppressing conspicuous traditions of Iranian culture showing they were more Islamic than the rest of them. However emphasis was on Shiite Islam. Rise of extremism in contemporary Islam is also traceable to Saudi-Iran horn-lock. Khomeini’s slogan of export of Iranian Islamic revolution championed by Shiite Pasdaran was countered by Saudi initiated Sunni Wahhabi mujahideen groundswell. Both developed their legions functioning under different patents but closely controlled and guided by respective state intelligence agencies. Iranian’s antagonism towards the US is rooted in latter’s support to Saudi monarchy and its autocratic institutions. Quite naturally, it contains Iran’s influence in the region. Presence of world’s most powerful country in such a close proximity of Iranian land and waters is a red rag to the bull. Iran’s animosity towards Israel is essentially rooted in US-Saudi-Israel tripartite tie-up. Since she cannot cross swords with the mighty US, she is conceitedly aggressive towards Israel. Her role in Lebanon and Syria is a reflection of this mindset. Saudi reaction is pungent. They look for a new assertive foreign policy and defence doctrine focusing on extended Iranian influence in the Middle East. They see the nuclear deal something that would keep Bashar al Assad of Syria in power. The nuclear deal implies resetting the US-Saudi relationship. If the US downgrades its alliance with Saudis, the European Union will not wait to fill the vacuum and become Saudi Arabia’s chief ally. But will European powers want to become an ally of a country pursuing rivalry with Iran across the Middle East? The Arab Spring is so far ineffective in the monarchical state. India, the third notable country in the region, will have to do some tightrope walking. India and Iran have a long history of cordial relations. India’s pro-Soviet stance of the Cold War era resulted in freezing of Indo-Israel relations. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, and a year later, India established diplomatic relations with Israel. Oil plays major role in Indo-Iran relations. But with the lifting of trade sanctions on Iran, India will revive her trade relations. The prospect of revitalizing Indo-Iran shipping effort will open up and with increase in crude oil imports, oil payments imbroglio will be resolved. During his visit to India in January 2003, the then Iranian President Khatami signed the Strategic Partnership Accord purporting mutual defence ties. It provided growing Indian access to Iranian bases in exchange of various Indian defence products, training and technology. Indian naval teams visited Iran for assistance in submarine maintenance and overhaul. Israel raised concerns on India warming up to Iranian defence requirements and also joint naval exercises in 2000. During his 2003 visit to New Delhi, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon Perez raised his country’s concern about Israel-based military technology transfer to Iran and asked for explicit guarantees. The 2005 Indo-US nuclear deal cast its shadow on Indo-Iran defence deals. Since then, their defence ties have remained low key. No meeting of the Joint Indo-Iran Working Group has taken place to date because of US pressure on India. Under US persuasions New Delhi voted against Iran in IAEA. Barely two weeks after the nuclear deal was signed in Geneva, Iranian warships Alborz, Bandar Abbas and Russian origin kilo-class submarine Younis visited the Mumbai port. Iran can lure Indian defence planners with a variety of defence equipment India would be interested in. On the other hand, India’s defence relations have steadily grown after 1992. Israel is India’s largest arms supplier after Russia. During the last decade Israel has supplied India arms worth 10 billion dollars or, on average, one billion dollars a year. Indo-Israel defence exchanges are in a number of advanced areas including technology transfer and counter-terrorism. In 2008 India launched TechSAR, an Israeli surveillance satellite providing strategic information. Iran protested. This notwithstanding, India and Israel have moved far ahead in defence ties. The Israeli Chief of land forces paid a 4-day visit to New Delhi in November 2013. The sides discussed Saudi Arabia and Middle East regions. India looked for purchase of Rafael-made Spike ATGMs including 321 missile launchers, 8356 missiles and 15 training simulations... Israel will be cooperating with India for high tech system at a cost of 3 billion dollars. Hopefully after the second stage of the Iranian nuclear deal matures, sanctions against Iran will be lifted and the India-Iran relationship can jump to new heights, reflected foremost in oil transactions. Secondly, naval cooperation between the two will assume wider dimensions. Thirdly, in all probability, the hitherto shelved IPI gas pipeline project will be revived. In this scenario, how will India-Iran-Israel tripartite relationship shape or withstand pressures? Can India use leverage for Iran-Israel détente and pave the road for a new workable relationship? It is here that the Iranian nuclear deal throws a big challenge to India. For Pakistan, the nuclear deal brings unique advantage. She retains monopoly over Sunni Muslim nuclear bomb as Shia Iran recedes. Dr. Kashi N. Pandita is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asia Studies, Kashmir University

Comments in Chronological order (2 total comments)

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Sun, January 19, 2014 07:15 AM (about 91374 hours ago)
The entire Muslim world considers Israel as a threat to its own existence.
In this scenario India, as Pandita rightly points out, has to be cautious
Sun, January 19, 2014 07:23 AM (about 91373 hours ago)
The entire Muslim world considers Israel as a threat to its own existence. No wonder they look at any appeasement in the American policy towards one o
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