The United States must offer better arguments

Try harder, Rademaker

The United States has again cautioned India over its plans to build a pipeline to purchase gas from Iran. But the arguments it has offered, at least publicly, are simplistic.

According to Stephen G Rademaker, assistant secretary of state for arms control, Iran could use the money from the project for illegitimate purposes. “We think it will be a mistake. Because such a pipeline project could provide funds to Iran government which could use it for funding terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” he told mediapersons after having discussions with senior Indian government officials. [IE]

Iran does not depend on funds from the pipeline project to develop its nuclear capabilities or fund terrorism. It has been doing so for a long time without ever having sold any significant amount of oil and gas to India. Indeed, it is unlikely to stop doing so if India were to abandon its plans to build the pipeline.

What the United States must do, if it intends to convince the Indian government of its point of view, is to consistently argue, correctly, that such a pipeline would be against India’s own interests. It should also signal that it appreciates India’s concerns to secure energy supplies for its growing economy — by forward proactively on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s offer to co-operate with India over nuclear power, as an alternative to oil & gas. Such moves are likely to be taken more seriously.