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Not an also Iran

India is also mindful that by joining issue with Iran on the uranium enrichment process, it leaves itself vulnerable to such pressure tactics from the US in future.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2008 23:01 IST

The New Delhi-Washington lovefest seems to be wearing off a bit if the exchange of words following the announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to come to India shortly is anything to go by. Earlier US exhortations that India talk turkey with Iran on dropping its controversial uranium enrichment programme had been met with mild protestations that we will charter our own course. But this time around, the US has been told in no uncertain terms that not only will we not be told what to do but also that Iran and India go back a long way. For good measure, a briefing on an Indo-UK naval exercise has been called off even as the USS Cole is in Indian waters.

Has New Delhi suddenly turned from Clark Kent to Superman or is it that with elections round the corner, a little tough talk to the ‘imperial hegemon’ will go down well with the restive comrades in the Left? Earlier the government’s vote against Iran in the IAEA had angered Messrs Karat and Co. who have always held that India should not alienate a traditional ally like Iran for its new best friend, the US. Let us not get carried away that this new tough talk is the advent of a bold foreign policy. Rather it could be guided by the fact that with both the US and India preoccupied with forthcoming elections, chances of the nuclear deal going through are receding. This means that the US will not threaten India with this issue in the coming months.

The deal is hardly worth upsetting the applecart of the UPA coalition in New Delhi’s reckoning. South Block is probably looking to see which way the dice falls in the US elections to revive the deal, if at all. With the Congress not going great guns in most states, it will need all the friends it can get, starting with the Left. A closer relationship with Iran holds out prospects for greater energy security even if the controversial Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is put on hold for the moment. India is also mindful that by joining issue with Iran on the uranium enrichment process, it leaves itself vulnerable to such pressure tactics from the US in future. For if the deal falls through, the US is sure to turn its guns on India’s nuclear programme as it has done in the past. In which eventuality, a show of spine, even if momentary is not such a bad idea.