terror in delhi 10/29
Saturday, February 04, 2006
  Iran’s Misplaced Anger

We had argued that India’s vote in the IAEA is not significant since the real decision will depend on China and Russia. Now, in today’s vote:

The resolution, which passed by a vote of 27 to 3 with five abstentions, reflects increasing suspicion around the world that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons.

Cuba, Syria and Venezuela voted against the resolution, which would also delay any concrete Security Council action against Iran for at least a month. Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained.

Note both that India and China voted against Iran this time. Now see the quick Iranian riposte:

Iran will press on with a contentious gas pipeline to Pakistan even if India does not meet a May deadline to join the project, an Iranian Deputy Oil Minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

The original plan was to build a $7 billion pipeline linking Iran's abundant gas reserves, the world's second biggest, to India's booming economy.

Why this selective anger against India? And without India, who is Iran planning to sell the gas?? Firstly, Pakistan already gets plenty of free oil from Saudi Arabia and has tons of gas reserves in its Balochistan province. It is another thing that the gas pipelines are getting blown up day in and out by Balochi nationalists. Also note that under the proposed agreement Pakistan will pocket $700 million as transit fee a year. The Balochi nationalists are opposed to the pipline on the current terms since most of the money will go to the military-controlled government in Islamabad - a colossal sum which can buy a dozen F-16s. Clearly, not in India’s interests.

Secondly, let’s have a look at the pipeline. It is clear that it will have to pass through the Balochistan at least till Gwadar. We had already noted that the Chinese are constructing a warm water port in Gwadar. So even without the pipleline reaching India, a large LNG terminal can be constructed and the gas goes off via huge tankers. The presence of Chinese navy will make sure that it goes-off peacefully in the deep waters. The Balochi nationalists can be a valuable ally to India to make sure that such an effort does not succeed.

It is not in India’s interest to have a nuclear-armed Iran under deep Chinese influence in our neighborhood. India needs to watch out for her interests in the coming months. They are:
  1. Say No to a nuclear-armed Iran.
  2. Undercut Chinese maneveurs in Iran/Central Asia.

Hence vis-à-vis Iran, it makes sense for India to ally herself with the United States and other Western powers. Nevertheless, we need to achieve these goals without compromising on our long-term energy security for our growing economy.

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