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Washing dirty linen in public - Akram Hoque - The Sunday Indian
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Washing dirty linen in public


India’s response to the recent developments involving Iran should be measured
AKRAM HOQUE | Issue Dated: March 4, 2012, New Delhi
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Following escalated tension between Iran and Israel, things are taking a scary shape in the sub-continent. The threat of a war is looming large as Iran seems to be daring its enemies by recent steps such as showing off its nuclear bases on its national television and emphasising the country’s massive progress in nuclear technology. Iran is trying to assert itself at a time when its adversaries are accusing it of terrorism. They allege Iran's hand in three bomb blasts that occurred in three different parts of the world, including New Delhi.

However, there are still not adequate reasons to justify an attack on Iran. It has reached the “4th generation centrifuges” of carbon fibre which are “speedier, produce less waste and occupy less space,” but it still has a long way to go before it learns how to enrich uranium. Yes, Iran boldly showing off its nuclear progress even in the face of sanctions may look offending to some world powers. But if Iran is guilty, then what about Israel which has already clandestinely achieved nuclear armed status, and with deliberate US support? Should we not then rate Iran in the same way we rated Israel? The fact is that for a decade now, Israel has been openly threatening to attack Iran. To Israel's disadvantage is the fact that the United States, with its shattered economy, is not ready for any attack and is still recovering from the effects of wars it fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. UK too has openly chided Israel's war plans.

 The recent allegations by Israel on Iran of having a hand in three unsuccessful bomb blasts in India, Bangkok and Georgia may be a ploy by the former to isolate Iran further. If that is the case, then why shouldn't Israel also stand accused of being primarily responsible for the killings of an umpteen number of Iranian nuclear scientists in the past five years?
However, for India a "bold step" in any direction is easier said than done. India will have to first safeguard its interests before towing Israel’s or the West's line on Iran. India has economic and diplomatic relations with the US. It takes Israel’s help when it comes to technology and intelligence sharing. But, India also has important relations with Iran for the import of petroleum. Thus, a hard stance on Iran would immediately hike fuel prices which will ultimately lead to inflation going up. Moreover, it will be a big blow to India’s energy security. India should also consider that it also faced US sanctions when it acquired nuclear capabilities.

It looks unfair on the West's part to say that no nation should develop nuclear weapons when they themselves have nearly 10,000 nuclear stockpiles. Iran is perceived as a danger for the world. The perception may be as good as it was about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction! The last time Iran invaded a nation was in the 8th century while the Western powers have  been waging war after war in the world to this day. 

By this legacy itself, one shouldn't be too worried about Iran. Rather, it is Israel which should be reined in by India at this point of time to ensure that a war doesn't start purely because of an impulsive decision of Israel.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017