March 04, 2012

Cold war between Iran, Israel

India can afford to wait and watch
by T.V. Rajeswar

THE attack on the Israeli embassy car on February 13 in the Diplomatic Enclave area, New Delhi, was part of the Iran-Israel feud going on for years. Similar attacks on Israeli vehicles had been reported in Georgia in Central Asia and Bangkok (Thailand) in East Asia. In Bangkok there were three bomb attacks, according to the Thai authorities, who reportedly detained a person responsible for one of the bombings. The arrested person turned out to be an Iranian national, who was inexplicably carrying an ID card with him. While the investigating authorities in Delhi are not prepared to say that Iranians were involved in the attack, the needle of suspicion undoubtedly points towards Iran.

Iran's ambition to go nuclear is known. The numerous centrifuges for enriching uranium that Iran had set up in recent months have increased Israel's anxiety. Israel selectively carried out attacks against some of the scientists working in the nuclear reactors in Iran. The last of such attacks was carried out by Israel in January this year. The US and the European Union imposed several crippling sanctions on Iran in recent months to send across the message that Iran should not cross the red line without inviting direct intervention militarily.

The US has been carrying out a balancing act between Israel and Iran to ensure that the situation does not go out of control. More importantly, Israel has to be restrained from carrying out its long-term plan of launching crippling strikes against the nuclear facilities in Iran. Such an attack would lead to a much bigger war, not excluding the US.

Iran has offered to hold talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) authorities so as to assure them that Tehran is not really going nuclear.
The US has a greater responsibility in the entire Iran-Israel faceoff. The US has to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran's hands so as to prevent the global balance from imploding, and also control Israel, which seems to be looking for an opportunity to launch a nuclear attack on Iran if it is convinced that Iran's nuclear facilities at Natanz and elsewhere are now dangerously close to nuclear explosion.

President Obama's worry is that once there is a nuclear attack by Israel on Iran, the responsibility of bringing the conflict to a close would fall on the US which may willy-nilly be forced to intervene. The financial and other consequences will be enormous.

Where does India come in this large canvas of the Iran-versus-Israel-and-US conflict? India can afford to wait and watch.

The Vice-President of the European Union, Catherin Ashton, who was in Delhi recently, said in an interview that Iran was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and hence it was binding on it to comply with the provisions of the NPT. She went on to say that India and other countries should review their relationship with Iran to ensure that Iran complied with the provisions of the NPT.
US and European Union officials believe that

Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons which means a serious threat to Israel. The IAEA has stated that it has credible information that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of nuclear device. It is also reported that Iran has a medium-level uranium enrichment facility near Qom. The IAEA ordered Iran to stop uranium enrichment as the technology used for it can also be used to enrich it to the higher level needed for a nuclear explosion.

In a riposte to the European Union measures against Iran, the latter put out a threat that it would cut all oil supplies to EU countries. President Obama sent a nuclear warship to be stationed in the Straits of Hormuz which was meant to be a standing warning to Iran that it stood to face crippling strikes if it crossed the limits drawn by the IAEA.

Even before he was sworn in as President, Obama was talking to Israel about Iran's nuclear programme. Obama reportedly impressed the Israelis, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his determination to stop Iran from going nuclear. There were reports that the Israeli Prime Minister was not very happy with President Obama putting more emphasis on the need to safeguard the non-proliferation policy and Iran's compliance to it than ensuring Israeli security.

The US and the EU have been putting pressure on India for cutting its ties with Iran, particularly stopping the import of oil. However, India has told the US that India's energy needs made it necessary for the oil import to continue. India also has pointed out that it has over six million people in the Gulf region who send millions of dollars back home regularly and Iran is the only country which provides land access to Afghanistan. It is not easy for India to take decisions like cutting of its ties with Tehran because of these considerations. In any case, India is not convinced as yet that Iran would disregard its NPT obligations and opt for nuclear power notwithstanding occasional claims by Iran regarding its nuclear capability.
In a recent interview, President Shimon Peres of Israel made some important observations. He said nuclear bombs did not shoot themselves. In whose hands the bombs were made all the difference. A bomb with North Korea alarmed the world, but not with countries like China.

He referred to the two decade-old Indo-Israeli relations and Israel having become an important and dependable supplier of weapons to India over the years.
India values its relations with Israel, which was demonstrated by the recent visit of Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna to Israel.

Indo-Israeli relations are, therefore, too important to be trifled with. The cold war between Iran and Israel will continue and India can afford to watch and keep a close eye on the developments.

The writer is a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau and an ex-Governor of UP and West Bengal.

1 comment:

Kumar said...

At long last there is some sensible article relating to the attack on the Israeli embassy vehicle.