THE STATE OF IRAN VS WEST
Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement. Under the NPT standards, it is a must for the member to report of nuclear material, its processing and its use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material had been processed and kept. Failing to co-operate is tantamount to the violation of the NPT clauses. One can recall that Iran had agreed to the terms of NPT and hence had to abide by it.
The non-compliance of Iran on the directives of the IAEA board to ensure full suspension of all enrichment related activities has created great suspicion in the minds of people. Iran had demonstrated its unwillingness to ratify the Additional Protocol. As per the Additional Protocol, a comprehensive framework is required in order to furnish full and complete information on installation and operation of nuclear facilities.
Iran has refused to reconsider its decision to construct a research reactor moderated by heavy water.
Moreover, there are substantial testimonies of Iranian production of polonium. Polonium has few uses other than in nuclear explosions.
In February 2010, the United Nations’ nuclear inspectors declared for the first time that they had extensive evidence of ‘past or current undisclosed activities’ by Iran’s military to develop a nuclear warhead, an unusually strongly worded conclusion likely to accelerate Iran’s confrontation with the United States and other Western countries.
Ah IAEA report was issued in February, 2011. The report had listed seven outstanding questions about work Iran apparently conducted on warhead design. The report raised questions about work on how to turn uranium into bomb fuel, how to cast conventional explosives in a shape that can trigger a nuclear blast, how to make detonators, generate neutrons to spur a chain reaction, measure detonation waves and make nose-cones for missiles. Further, the May report gave new details for all seven of the categories of allegations. The disclosure about the atomic trigger centered on a rare material – uranium deuteride, a form of the element made with deuterium, or heavy hydrogen. It is believed that China and Pakistan appear to have used the material as a kind of atomic sparkplug. The report said, it had asked Iran about evidence of “experiments involving the explosive compression of uranium deuteride to produce a short burst of neutrons” – the speeding particles that split atoms in two in a surge of nuclear energy. In a bomb, an initial burst of neutrons is needed to help initiate a rapid chain reaction. In fact, the nuclear enrichment involves I. The conversion of raw uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride-ride gas is the first step in the process of uranium enrichment II. Low-grade enriched uranium is used to generate power, whereas high-grade material can be used to produce atomic weapons.
On the other hand, Iran the biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, denies Western suspicions that its nuclear programme has military goals, saying, it is for purely peaceful purposes. Recently, Iran has deployed warplanes, missiles and radar facilities in exercises to boost the air defenses of its nuclear facilities. Iran has also announced a halt to the limited amount of oil it exported to Britain and France in retaliation for an EU embargo on its oil due to come fully into effect in to effect in July. Iran knows one thing that only by developing a nuclear bomb, they can secure permanent place in the world politics. They know that only strength respects strength. The history tells that those having nuclear bombs are less vulnerable than those who are not having. They also know that if Iraq and Afghanistan had nuclear bombs or weapons of mass destruction, then the whole scenario would have been different. If Iraq were in possession of n-bomb, then Saddam would have alive, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Hosni MuBarack, Saleh would have not gone. In Afghanistan, Talibans would have been there and not the NATO forces. Iran also knows that even a small country like Pakistan marks its global presence only because of its nuclear capacities. Therefore, for Iran, a nuclear is a panacea of all their problems.
For USA, Israel and other western powers, it is very clear that their hegemony would be jeopardized once the Iranian n-bomb is created. After acquiring n-capabilities, Iran would not be a soft target like Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. US have strategic interests especially related to oil exploration. Israel has its whole existence over the fact that, the Arab world remains non-nuclear so that their nuclear capability would have asymmetric advantages over the rest of the rivals. The EU knows that nuclearization of the region would far reaching consequences for their existing equations and therefore, the sanctions were imposed to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank in European Union nations and ban the importation of Iranian oil to those countries. The measures also block European Union countries from exporting petrochemical equipment and technology to Iran, or trading diamonds and precious metals with the Middle Eastern state. Therefore, a nuclear Iran is a threat to all their equations and existence in the region.
India is deeply involved with the outcome of Iranian nuclear programme; albeit not directly but indirectly. But, the attack of Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, all of a sudden made India to think otherwise. The attack has indicated that India cannot feel that the Iran imbroglio would affect it only to the extent of energy sector. statement, given that Indian citizens were injured, but India was India could not have stayed away from supporting this UNSC insistent that Iran not be mentioned by name since investigations were not over. Now, India has to evolve a deeper and greater policy to deal with this intractable situation. India has correctly said that it has no evidence about any individual, entity, organization and country involved in the attack. India knows that its ties with Iran whether on energy front or overall trade sector were driven by its own national interest.
India had already supported the United States-backed resolution against Syria in the United Nations Security Council and India is now under intense pressure to comply with US and European Union sanctions against Iran. India has said it will not abide by US unilateral sanctions, so its response could indicate the increasing uncertainty of doing business with Iran. In fact, India has continued to purchase oil from Iran despite the recent sanctions. Both Israel and US are not happy with this. Besides India, China, Japan and South Korea too have refused to toe the western line.
The tension in Middle East is certainly going to revive the tendencies of cold war and under these situations; India has to evolve an extremely careful policy to deal with the changing equations in the region. First and foremost, India must secure an alternative arrangement to replace the Iranian supply of oil and gas. At the same time, India must explore all the possibilities to avail the trade and other economic activities out of the vacuum.
India expects to avail an estimated $ 8-billion opportunity awaiting for Indian exporters as their American and European counterparts have virtually put a halt to shipments to Iran on account of recent sanctions. The sectors identified for boosting Indian exports include auto-components, textile machinery, sugar machinery, steel ingots, heavy tyres, high-technology machines for forging and casting, rice, sugar, soya bean, barley, butter, wheat and red-meat. Auto-components are of major interest as Iran imports close to $ 2 billion worth items in the sector including from the US and Europe. India also considers Iran as a lucrative foreign market for its manufactured goods and services. Besides that Iran’s proven natural gas reserves amounting to about 15% of the world’s total reserves.
The rising tensions between Iran and Israel are creating a fresh set of worries for Indian rice and tea exporters, who are already facing payment issues on account of a weakening Iranian currency. Further, it is estimated that the rice exporters alone are hurt by payment dues of around Rs.600 crore. Iran is the largest market for India’s basmati rice, accounting for close to half the shipments of over 2 million tones. Nevertheless, the bilateral trade balance is heavily inclined towards Iran. Oil imports from Iran were $ 9.4 billion in 2010-11 and $ 3.1 billion during April-June 2011. However, total exports from India to Iran were only $ 2.7 billion in 2010-11 and $ 591 million during April-June 2011. India is the second largest buyer of crude oil from Iran, importing about 352000bpd/(barrels per day), which amount to 13.5% of West Asian country’s export of 2.6 million bpd. India now pays Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, about $ 1 billion every month.
As part of the proposed payment mechanism, both India and Iran have agreed on a new arrangement for India to make up to 45 % of the total payment in rupee for its crude oil import from Iran. If the mechanism gets implemented, there will be room for assured payments for India’s additional exports of at least $ 1.5-2 billion from the present level. It is to be noted that the fresh sanctions by the United States and embargo by the European Union against the sale of oil from the West Asian country made it difficult for India to pay for its hydrocarbon imports from Iran. India has been making payments for Iranian crude oil through Halk Bank of Turkey since the middle of last year. In February 2012, Iran had given India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation a one-month deadline to sign the contract for the development of Iran’s offshore Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf, but India did not initiate on this proposal due to growing sanctions.
For India, a possible war between the West and Iran is not only a major concern from its diplomatic point of view but also from point of energy security. In case Iran stops supply of gas to India or Iran is not able supply to India, then India would have a great crisis in energy sector. India must search for an option to have continued supply of crude oil in view of rising tensions due to sanctions by the US and the EU against Iran. India this process, India has correctly asked Saudi Arabia for an additional 5 million tons of crude oil during 2012-13. India buys 27 million tons of crude oil per annum from Saudi Arabia while its annual import from Iran is about 17 million tones. In fact, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s National Oil Company, had a spare production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day beyond the current output of 9.8 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading producer of crude oil and India, the world’s 4th largest oil importer. It purchased 27mt of Saudi oil last year while its imports from Iran were 17 mt.
India is also exploring Israel for sourcing of natural gas. The two fields, Leviathan and Tamar in the offshore waters of Israel, are estimated to hold around 24 trillion cubic feet of gas. China has already evinced interest over picking up equity in the Tamar gas field project, slated to come into production by the end of 2012.
Iran has always taken positive stand on Kashmir and advised the Shias not to resort to terrorism, refused to support Pakistani resolution of the violation of the Human Rights in Kashmir, adopted moderate position after the demolition of Babri Masjid, provided India with a land corridor during the instability period in Pakistan and Afghanistan, shown positive attitude to India’s energy requirements, continued to support after India’s nuclear tests of May, 1998. But at the same time any aggressive nuclear design may be dangerous for the entire human being. Nonetheless, the recent development has shown that whether India votes against Iran or abstains, it makes no difference to the overall course of development in the Middle East but India must be prepared to tackle its issues related to energy security. The growing tension has taken a huge magnitude and has been put beyond the pale of anyone’s capacity.
For India, a balanced approach is required to tackle this issue. A value-free, pragmatic and diplomatic measure is needed; India must not expose its intentions and must maintain a safe distance from this controversial issue. The policy of middle path should be preferred. India should either try to espouse a compromise formula or support those compromising formulae. India should try to communicate to the entire world that if the impasse continues then the cold war would be revived and under the new economic order, a condition like cold war cannot be afforded by any one.