Iran, US and India
By Sankaran Anand at Dec 20, 2007
We now hear a lot about how Iranian madmen are on the verge of getting nuclear weapons and nothing less than WW3 is threatened. It may be helpful to investigate how committed President Bush really is to check non-proliferation of arms and nukes.
In August of this year, India and US agreed on a historic nuclear deal. A bit of background may be helpful and will enlighten the connection to Iran.
India (unlike Iran), a non-signatory to the NPT, conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and was sanctioned. But, in recent years, due to many considerations of power politics (including hopes of using it as a counterweight to China), India got a "one-time exception" to get fuel from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
A few incidents and facts may be helpful to recall here:
a) In 2004-05, India voted against Iran (twice) at the International Atomic Energy Agency under enormous arm-twisting by the US.
b) India is in the process of increasing it's conventional arsenal (a 10-year defence deal with the US, deals with Israel and Russia). The US also sells arms to Pakistan.
c) India still has only 8 of its 22 reactors classified as "civilian". There's no guarantee that India will not use its fuel to develop more weapons. Certainly Pakistan and China will assume it will.
d) India, Pakistan and Iran are negotiating a "peace pipeline", a big project to get natural gas and tie the region together. The US is undermining the process by calling for, in no uncertain terms, for India to cut off ties with Iran.
Fortunately, the deal has run into difficult weather both internationally (because it blatantly undermines the NPT, effectively rewarding India for non-compliance) and more importantly, in India itself. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, even though it initiated the proceedings, is now opposed on narrow technical grounds. The Left parties, which support India's coalition govt. from the outside, have threatened to withdraw support.
The recent incidents in Pakistan demonstrate once again the essential volatility of the South Asian region. One does not enhance peace, security and democracy by undermining efforts at regional and global reconciliation.