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We’ll not slip on the oil

india Updated: Apr 24, 2011 22:34 IST
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Former US treasury official Avi Jorisch’s article exhorting the Indian government not to purchase oil from Iran (Not worth banking on, April 13) has tried to obfuscate the real issues. The author has intentionally hidden the fact that Iran’s oil sales are not covered by any international sanction. Even the European-Iranian Bank does not face any sanctions from the United Nations Security Council. The European Union (EU) and Germany have also not blacklisted it. It was for this reason that Germany ratified an arrangement to transfer Iranian oil proceeds. India also has not blacklisted it, otherwise it would not have agreed to the transfer of oil sale proceeds through it. Only the US has done so, albeit wrongly.

Jorisch writes that Iran needs money to suppress its people and facilitate terrorism. This is wrong. Iran is the most democratic country in the region, certainly more than many regional regimes that Washington has been propping up. In fact, the Iranian government needs money for its various pro-people programmes.

The writer is supposed to be an expert on counter-terrorism and so, I presume, knows that Iran has been a victim of terrorism. We also know the US’s record: Osama bin Laden and the Americans were friends and there are reports that the Americans themselves hatched the 9/11 conspiracy. Iran has always demanded that the term ‘terrorism’ should be defined and terrorism and terrorists should not be dealt with on a selective basis.

The writer has wrongly stated that the traditional Indian-Iranian relationship has revolved around bilateral trade. But that’s not true: Indo-Iran relationship is based on shared culture and values; trade is a small part of it. In his article, Jorisch wrote: “Washington put pressure on New Delhi and transaction between Iran and India ground to a halt.” But the Indian government has denied any kind of foreign pressure and the Iranian government also accepts the same. The author calls India’s decision to purchase oil from Iran baffling. Does he know more than the Government of India about the country’s interests?

Before talking about Iran’s human rights record, the author should read the latest Amnesty International report about the human rights situation in the US and its activities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The killing of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US forces is a war crime.

The article has blatantly threatened the Indian companies using the German Central Bank/EIH mechanism to transact business with Iran, saying that they may lose their access to US and European markets. It seems that the US officials are still living in the past when threatening others was considered to be a part and parcel of normal diplomatic discourse.

Iran has time and again stated that it does intend to build the nuclear bomb. The religious leaders of Iran have declared the use of nuclear weapons as forbidden. Iran never attacked its neighbours. But unfortunately, many have knowingly and intentionally decided not to listen to what the Iranian government says.

I must add that the ties between Iran and India are as strong as ever and will not be affected by any third-party interference. Moreover, the bilateral relationship between these two countries is in the interest of the people of this region and, by extension, of the world. The enemies of this relationship will not succeed in their nefarious designs.

Reza Alaei Tazegheshlagh is Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The views expressed by the author are personal.