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India losing track of national interest in the Iran-US melee

Altamash Hashmi

Updated: May 18, 2012, 4:26 PM IST
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The growing rift between Iran and the United States took me back to my days at the United Nations(UN) in New York last year. I remember my conversation with an American journalist at the UN who would simply not stop criticising countries which do not serve the national interest of the United States, especially Iran. This made me think about India's relationship with Iran and our own national interest.

India has been constantly cutting down its oil imports from Iran for the past five years which reached its peak of 34 per cent last month. But the United States maintains that India needs to do more to get sanctions waiver. In fact, India is planning an overall reduction of 11 per cent more in oil imports from Iran for the financial year 2012-13. But the question is: 'Why India should cater to their demand?'

Iran has been one of our main oil suppliers for years now with Tehran supplying 12 per cent of our oil needs. In fact, our refineries are designed to specifically process Iranian crude oil. So, I see no reason for this drastic cut other than the fact that India is finding it hard to work out the mode of payment for the oil purchased from Iran.

For years, I have been an ardent supporter of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's non-alignment policy. It helped us strike a balance at several instances, including during the Cold War when the world was living under the threat of a real war between the nuclear-armed United States and Soviet Union. The India that we see today is a result of Nehru's smart foreign policy. But this seems to be changing very fast now. We are giving too much importance to one country, namely the United States, even as our strategic relationship has not been very fruitful these days.

We abandoned our close ally Sri Lanka during the UNHCR resolution vote just a few months back. The argument was that the Union government was under pressure from Washington. That is still acceptable but why does India have to spoil its relationship with a very important trading partner at the cost of another? In fact, when it comes to Iran's nuclear ambition, India must think twice before taking the advice of the United States which is the only country in the world to have actually used nuclear weapons against another country.
First Published: May 18, 2012, 4:26 PM IST

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