Iran, Israel & USA: India’s Tightrope Walk
The attack on Israeli embassy staff in New Delhi on Monday has brought into sharp focus India’s growing dilemma. While India has strong ties with Israel, it has robust trade ties with Iran owing to its growing energy needs, and is one of Iran’s largest crude oil customers
New Delhi also has burgeoning ties with Israel to tend to, reports The Wall Street Journal. “India’s defense purchases from Israel — part of a high-priority modernization of the country’s armed forces after decades of neglect — include surface-to-air missiles and surveillance and missile defense technology. The countries also share the experience of being frequent targets of terrorist attacks.
“If Indian investigators ultimately determine Iran was involved in the attack, there would be enormous domestic and international pressure on India to back away from supporting Iran and perhaps even curb its oil purchases, analysts say.
“Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said Monday’s attack ‘further complicates India’s policy dilemmas” regarding its relationship with Iran.
” ‘The fact is that it won’t be easy for India to just snap its ties with Iran, but whatever happened yesterday adds to the pressure,’ Mr. Chellaney said. He said India could become a ‘proxy battleground’ amid geopolitical tensions between the West and Iran.”
In spite of sanctions by the US and the European Union and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to step up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team going there shortly to explore new opportunities. The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, highly-placed sources told IANS.
“Despite the Western sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees.
“Not just oil, India is also stepping up the refurbishing of the Chabahar Port in Iran and a strategic railway link that will offer it direct access to Afghanistan and the energy-rich Central Asia.” More here…
Meanwhile Israeli diplomats in India admit the terror attacks’ mild consequences are a very fortunate, and could have ended much worse, especially if Yehoshua-Koren’s children happened to have been in the car at the time of the explosion.
“We were always warned, and even more so recently, that we’re a target,” an Israeli diplomat in the Israeli embassy in India said. “But you don’t really understand it until it happens. We will continue working and doing what needs to be done, but one must admit given that we have families, children – it is scary.” More here…