While the West is seeing progress as a result of its sanctions against Iran, with the regime signaling a renewed willingness to negotiate about its secretive nuclear program, nearby India is determined to work “creativity” with the country. The reasons? China, oil and gas.
At The Diplomat, N.V. Subramanian writes about India’s attempts to work around both UN and unilateral American and European sanctions, advising Indian companies operating in Iran to join international consortiums, for instance, which makes it harder for them to be hit by sanctions. “They could also be advised to create new corporate identities with no exposure in the United States or European Union.”
Driving New Delhi’s Iran policy is, in part, the country’s ever growing demand for oil and natural gas. Under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Indian government has begun pursuing a “Look West” approach in the Middle East, strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia in order to ensure a stable supply of necessary resources. It can hardly afford to miss out on Iran’s vast oil and gas supplies.
There is, however, another, at least equally important reason for India to remain engaged with Iran. As Subramanian points out, India’s Ministry of External Affairs is worried about China stepping into a vacuum left by the exit of international corporations from Iran. That would inevitably enhance the Middle Kingdom’s leverage with Tehran and that’s all the motivation New Delhi needs to maintain an active presence there.
While certainly no fan of Iran’s nuclear program, the Indians are in something of a tough spot. India, after all, is itself one of the few countries in the world never to have signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and it built a nuclear weapon illegitimately. With fellow rising powers Brazil and China, it continually defends nations’ right to self-determination, even when it leads them to irritate the West. But it has to wonder whether the price — a nuclear Iran — is worth that fight.