Though the US Congress’s final vote on the Indo-US nuclear deal is unlikely to happen until next year, Capitol Hill pressure over the Indo-Iran relationship has resumed. Two US senators, John Kyl and Richard Durbin, have written to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing "concern" over India’s “dealings” with Iran. They pointedly said they were raising these “in the context of the 123 Agreement."
Kyl and Durbin had been among six senators who had written a similar letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year, a letter to which Kyl says he received "no response."
Indian officials rate the tone of the new letter as less harsh than the earlier one.
The new letter raises more or less the same questions about the extent of India’s military and energy relationship with Iran. It cites reports of the supposed proliferation of chemical and nuclear technology to Iran by Indian firms and individuals.
India has long pointed out the few military supplies India provided to Iran were of the most basic variety – like armour plating and batteries – and were done on behalf of the reformist Khatami regime not the present hardline government. The few examples of proliferation were by individual Indian firms and New Delhi’s new export control laws have put an end to such transactions. Iran’s onerous demands have killed off any long-term energy relationship.
A number of US reports, including by the Congressional Research Service, have confirmed the shallowness of the Indo-Iran strategic relationship. The continuing pressure, believe diplomatic sources, reflects lobbying by Israel and the American-Jewish community to leverage their support for the Indo-US nuclear deal to get India to sever the few links it has with Iran. New Delhi is clear that while it doesn’t support Iran’s nuclear ambitions it will not let its Iran policy be dictated by Israel.