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Iran nuclear deal

India hopes that Iran will seize the "window of opportunity" offered for diplomatic efforts to succeed. In graphics

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 18:14 IST

IAEA's face-off with Iran comes at a time when the Muslim world is outraged over a Danish newspaper cartoon, lampooning the Prophet. Angry Muslims slam the West for disparaging Islam while many other European papers repeat the caricatures, in defence of liberalism.

As predicted, India voted in Vienna’s IAEA meeting in favour of referring Iran to UN Security Council in the hope that it would seize the “window of opportunity” offered for diplomatic efforts to succeed. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it a “scientific apartheid” of a few countries. Meanwhile, the protests and marches over the cartoon spread far and wide with some hardliners calling it a provocation to ignite a global religious war.

The two incidents are unrelated but it remains a distressing fact that the Muslim world, particularly the oil rich Middle East, has serious differences with the US-led West and vice versa. The US believes that Iran is pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. For Iran, it is a matter of national pride to charter its own course, while fulfilling basic NPT obligations. Iran’s position may sound unconvincing but the rest of the world can’t deny that the issue is loaded with religious sentiments.

Where does India figure in this? Among the 35-members of IAEA Board of Governors, India has decided to go with the flow to uphold its nuclear power status and high technology demand that hinge on Washington’s support. If New Delhi has been uneasy in Vienna, it is because Iran’s isolation – or a possible military action against it – hardly suits India in the long run.

Let us face it, India can’t change Iran’s fortune; nor can it alter the Western resolve. The symbolic value of Saturday’s Indian vote against Iran (despite a conditional first vote last year upholding Iran’s compliance) marks India’s shift from its stated non-aligned foreign policy. This time, India has gone with the flow but in future it may not be easy for it to take similar positions on trickier non-poliferation issues.

HT Research team analyses the backdrop of India’s role in the standoff. We first analyse recent ups and downs in India-Iran relations to understand India’s current preferences. The next write up examines India’s energy imperatives that influence its foreign policy. In the end, HT’s Foreign Editor looks at the Iran issue from the nuclear non-proliferation angle to forewarn that the non-proliferation regime is set to become even more intrusive in years to come.