By: Dipak Basu
April 08, 2006
expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
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In Washington Post recently on 24th January, one article was published
analyzing the opinion of the Iranians on international matter. One of the
Iranian has pointed out from the ruins of Persepolis a sculpture depicting
barefooted Indian bringing gifts for the Emperor Darius and said,” they
have nine nuclear power but we have none”. Similar derogatory remarks can
be heard from the Iranians about India, particularly when they are all
very proud about the conquest of India by Nadir Shah.
That summarizes basically the attitude of the Iranians about India and the
hostility towards India based on their usual idea that India is land of
beggars and starving people. This attitude is not restricted among the
Islamists, but widespread. Shah of Iran was not an Islamist, but he had
offered the entire air force of Iran to Pakistan during the Indo-Pak war
in 1971 and had threatened India with dire consequences if India would try
to take away any more parts of Pakistan after the fall of East Pakistan.
Given this history it would be surprising that India would not oppose
Iran’s attempt to obtain nuclear weapons. However, there is another side
of this dispute.
India’s foreign policy makers during the BJP administration, people like
Jaswant Singh or Brajesh Mishra, were intoxicated with anti-Russian
obsession that had blinded them from reality. People close to Man Mohan
Singh have similar anti-Russian obsessions. They try to reduce India’s
dependency on Russian oil by developing independent relationship with
central Asian states through Iran and bypassing Russia. By doing so, they
forgot the threat Iran creates towards India.
Iran is dedicated to the Islamic revolution throughout the world, which
would not be restricted to any geographical area. American invasion of
Iraq has eliminated a secular government of Saddam Hussein and the most
likely outcome for Iraq, due to its demographic characteristic, is a Shia-Muslim
government, same as in Iran. There are sizable Shia population in Bahrain
and Saudi Arabia as well. Thus, American occupation of Iraq has
strengthened the Shia-Muslims and their ability to project their power
throughout the Middle East and beyond. Although Iranians are opposed to
the Arabs and Shias are opposed to the Wahabi-movement of Saudi Arabia,
they can collaborate, as they did against Afghanistan from 1978 to 1992,
as their world-view is the same. Both of them want to create Dar-Ul-Islam
throughout the world.
While Saudi Arabia is supporting Islamic movement, violent or nonviolent,
in a number of countries, so far Iranians are restricted their supports
only for their co-religious organizations like Hamas in occupied Palestine
and Syria, which undermines the secular liberal Al-Fatah movement of late
Yasser Arafat. If Iran is going to have nuclear weapons it will be in a
position to support its version of Islamic revolution in a world scale.
So far the relationship between India and Iran is cordial, due to the fact
that Iran needed India to obtain its vital imports and to obtain
scientific and technological experts particularly in the field of nuclear
energy. India already made a deal to build a nuclear energy plant in Iran.
However, the equation has changed recently for the worse for India. Russia
has already built a nuclear plant in Iran. China is building another
nuclear plant. Both China and Russia are now a solid source of technology
for Iran. China also is the source of most manufactured products Iran
imports. Thus, Iran does not need India anymore but India still may need
Iran, if India wants to reduce its dependency on Russian oil. It is not
possible for India to import oil and gas from Central Asia without the
cooperation of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, unless India wants to use
the Russian route.
India’s support so far to Iran, however tangential, emerges from that
ambition of India to have direct link with central Asian oil and gas
resources. The route through Afghanistan is impossible without the
cooperation from Pakistan. The land route from Iran to India also has to
pass through the most volatile area of Pakistan, Baluchistan, which is in
revolt. The submarine pipeline from Iran to India also needs cooperation
from Pakistan. India needs to think seriously whether the direct link
either via land or submarine pipeline is at all feasible given the
political situation in this area of the world and the changing
international scene in Central Asia.
Central Asian states have now realized that the US will not leave
Afghanistan or Iraq in near future but will have permanent military bases
in both of these countries to control the oil and gas resources of both
the Middle East and the Central Asia. USA is also trying to promote its
version of government in the central Asian states as it did already
throughout Eastern Europe and Georgia recently by organizing and financing
public demonstrations against the established governments there. Most
central Asian countries are now afraid that they would be the next targets
for the US organized demonstration to change the regimes.
As a result, they are getting closer and closer to both Russia and China,
who are both more than willing to resist any attempts by the US and NATO
to have military bases in Central Asian states. Russian oil and gas
companies, Gazprom and Lukoil, already revived the exiting oil and gas
pipelines between Turkmenistan, Kazakstan, and Russia to supply Central
Asian oil and gas to the consumers in Western Europe. A new oil and gas
pipeline network between Russia and Norway is about to be completed as
well. That will bypass all East European states, particularly hostile
Poland and Ukraine to supply Russian and Central Asian oil and gas
directly to Western Europe. In that case whether Turkmenistan will be
interested to supply gas to India via Iran is the main question when it
will obtain enormous market in Western Europe. Besides, as explained
before land-based pipelines through Baluchistan or submarine pipelines
through Pakistan’s territorial water have high risk both financial and
It would be a much better option for India to develop refineries in
Russian coastline, to have liquidified natural gas to be transported by
sea to India. This option is virtually risk free. The natural gas from
Turkmenistan, now under the Russian company Gazprom, also can be available
to India, if India maintains its traditional good relationship with
China is building nuclear plant in Iran and is now the most important
trading partner for Iran. In the competition between China and India for
the Iranian market India has little chance to overpower Chinese exports,
which are both cheaper, due to wise exchange rate policy of China, and of
great variety. China also can supply missiles fitted with nuclear weapons
as it did already to Pakistan and North Korea. India cannot do that, as
India has no missiles fitted with nuclear weapons. Also, Indian missiles
came from Russia (Soviet Union in 1989) originally, thus India cannot
export these without the permission from Russia.
As a result Iran will enhance its trade relationship with China than with
India. China has become the most important importer of oil from Iran
already and got the contract to develop one large oil field in Iran. Thus,
India has little importance for Iran.
As a result, India’s vote for or against Iran in the International Energy
Agency or in the U.N has little importance for Iran. India cannot stop
Iran developing nuclear weapons; India cannot help Iran either. Thus,
neutrality for India towards Iran is perfectly justified given the
national interest of India.
India has failed to understand the reason why the United States is so
interested to stop Iran developing nuclear energy and weapons while it has
accepted nuclear weapons of North Korea, who has already violated the
rules of the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) but USA never took any
action against it. American ally Israel already is a major nuclear weapons
state. Brazil very soon can have nuclear weapons as well. USA is not
worried about them. The reason is pure economics.
Iran threatens the US Dollar and its present status as the sole currency
of the world for trade in oil and gas. It costs nothing for the US to
import anything from the rest of the world or to keep vast American
military bases throughout the world, as payments can be made by Dollar,
which costs only the paper on which it would be printed. However, Dollar
is required for every oil- importing countries of the world; and that it
is reason central banks of most countries keep their reserves of foreign
exchange mainly in Dollar.
That explains why USA is so powerful militarily and can import so much
while it has little money to improve the living condition of the American
poor, who now depends on the charity from Venezuela.
The recent sufferings of the American people after the devastations caused
by the cyclone in New Orleans has exposed the terrible poverty in USA.
About 20 percent of the children in the US go hungry everyday, about 34
million people are homeless and about one- fourth of the population cannot
afford even the most elementary medical treatment. The same country can
spend billions to subjugate other nations because it can just print Dollar
and get what it likes outside the US.
That special status of Dollar can be threatened if the oil producing
countries switch from Dollar to Euro for trade in oil and gas. From March
this year, Iran has the intension to do just that, which Venezuela already
did and Iraq wanted to do just before it was invaded.
As a result, Iran can seriously undermine the demand for Dollar in the
world market. If other oil exporting countries follow Iran, Dollar will
collapse along with the US economy. That is the reason for the urgency of
the US to take punitive action against Iran and if possible to control the
oil wealth of Iran by occupying the country, as indicated by the US
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. North Korea has no oil; thus, it does not
matter for the US whether North Korea has nuclear weapons or not. In fact,
it is beneficial for the US that North Korea, and China, have nuclear
weapons. That will keep Japan afraid and Japan will go on lending money to
the US, as it did already to the tune of $400 billion.
Thus, by supporting USA against Iran, India cannot act according to its
national interest but in effect India is supporting the US design to
control the oil and gas resources of the world from which India has
nothing to gain. Western oil companies has artificially increased the
international price of oil by about 300 percent within the last two years
to increase their own profits and to strengthen US Dollar. As a result
India is having once again serious balance of payment deficits and
increasing rate of inflation. It would get worse if Iran would be invaded.
The combined profit of the major Western oil companies is now more than
the national income of 134 countries of the world and more than the
combined national income of Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, and India. If they can
control the oil wealth of Iran, their ability to increase the price of oil
will be strengthened and as result India will be at their mercy as it was
1960, when all western oil companies refused to supply any oil to India
when India was trying to establish the Oil & Natural Gas Commission. At
that time Indian economy was rescued from total collapse by Iraq and the
Soviet Union, who had supplied both the oil and the technology for oil
exploration. Iraq is now colonized by the U.S and the Soviet Union does
not exist any more. Thus, India is on its own and vulnerable.
By supporting USA, India cannot do any justice to her national interest or
to India’s international prestige! No matter what India would do to
please, USA will support Pakistan militarily and China economically. USA
also does not want India to have nuclear weapons or missiles or any
advancement in space research. So far India has achieved everything in
these fields, despite of objections from the US, because of the Soviet
Union and Russia. USA is now making every obstacle so that India would
have to give up its dream of achieving technological self-sufficiency in
these vital areas.
Thus, there is no reason for India to supply diplomatic weapons to the US,
so that it can take over Iran as well as Iraq. India cannot support Iran,
a die-hard Islamic country, to have nuclear weapons either. Thus, India
should not take side in this matter, which would have grave implications
in near future.
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