India votes right on Iran’s nukes

And when it was time to vote, India voted in favour of a resolution sponsored by EU countries that aims to refer Iran’s nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council. This, as The Acorn had advocated, is exactly what it should have done.

The IAEA board carried the resolution by a 22-to-1 vote, with 12 abstentions. India voted in favour with the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Peru, Singapore and Japan. In spite of leading the opposition, Russia and China abstained while it was left for Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela to register the sole vote against the motion. While the resolution was not as tough as the Europeans initially proposed, it still sets the stage for the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council while signaling to Iran that it has just one last chance to work out a compromise.

What effect the vote will have on Iran’s nuclear programme is still anybody’s guess. But it is amply clear that India has broken new ground in international relations — it has broken ranks with both ‘non-aligned’ and ‘developing’ countries to vote in line with a new definition of its national interest, and as a responsible regional and global power. Like Russia and China, India could easily have abstained. That it chose clarity over ambivalence clearly demonstrates that the Indian foreign policy establishment has recognised that an independent foreign policy is not inconsistent with taking the same positions as the West. The foreign minister’s rhetoric though needs some catching up, trapped as he is in a Cold War that is long over. India failed to extract as much diplomatic mileage from its decision as it could have. If only the foreign minister had better articulated India’s position.

Related Link: As usual, it falls upon C Raja Mohan to explain why and why not on behalf of the Indian government.

18 thoughts on “India votes right on Iran’s nukes”

  1. Good choice.

    Just wondering though, why does Pakistan get to have all the American weapons even though they abstained. They would try to forge an alliance with Iran now. The world (pro Non-proliferation!) would be better served to keep an eye on the Pakistani help to Iranian nuclear program after this vote. If (rather, When) Iran does makes its nuclear bombs, we would all know how they made them.
    The big question would be, how does India now deal with both Iran and Iraq (which is increasingly leaning towards Iran due to Shiite majority), both with huge oil collections, which would not totally see eye to eye with India now. Saudia has been pro-Pak for long. The only way out for India is to look else where at more stable countries and regions for its energy needs and grow the nuclear option inhouse.

    Coming back to Iran, US will not be able to invade Iran and do a regime change. Which means, Ayatullahs will stay. When they have the bomb, they will now be in alliance with Pakistan, for various reasons. This vote not with standing, they would have done that anyway as Pakistan is the one helping them build the bomb and not India.India needs to forge new aliances with the Central Asian republics, which are increasingly being patronised by Pakistan, and commit to new levels of relationship with Afghanistan. It will not be a bad idea to ask for international help to persuade Pakistan to give a connecting link to Afghanistan from the Kashmir region, instead of the just the transit rights (Similar to what they are thinking about connecting West Bank with Gaza). It will not be totally realistic to think that Pakistan will do that, but then it never is not worth a try. If not the whole PoK but atleast a land road to Afghanistan.

  2. To answer Sachin, Pakistan’s military likes to play with American weapons, these are no threat to India which is 7 times bigger than Pakistan. The American probably think (perhaps with some justification) that they buy some leverage by supplying Pakistan with weapons. I am not sure, Bin Laden is their golden goose and to capture him would be bad for business.

    The way to deal with Iran/Iraq might be to bride their leaders, not the president but maybe middle level officials. I don’t think they are going to stop selling oil to India.

    India has a lot of “soft power” with Islamic nations at least with the common people. I was talking to an Iraqi taxi driver, on the journey he start singing dum maro dum …bollo suva sam hare krishna hare ram. If He was a true islamicist then he would never sing about Idols like Ram and Krishna. An Iranian aquatance also expressed admiration of Gandhis beleive that different religions can get on. I have met Moroccans also who have very warm feelings about India through bolywood. I suppose Indian values are transmitted through these films.

    India will have to decide long term if it with the “free world” or with dictatorship (Russia and China). I hope India chooses the “free world” but I also hope that in this global drama India never loses touch with its true self, and does not let down the ordinary people in the Middle east, some of which have a genuine affection for bharat. We hear about wahabist and religious fanatics, these people are evil dinosaurs, soon they will be extinct, and they get too much coverage. A lot middle east people do want democracy, a democratic Iraq would be good for India.

  3. Ramgopal,
    On a less serious note:

    The way to deal with Iran/Iraq might be to bride their leaders, not the president but maybe middle level officials.

    This must be due to all the talk of swallows and honey traps following the release of the Mitrokhin Archives 🙂

  4. Taking ahead Ramgopal’s observations, its true Middle East general population and Indians have great regard and respect for each other. But unfortunately, the majority there are non-democracies and people do not havde much say in formulating the policies of their respective national governments. People may want a peaceful solution to J&K, but the governments won’t let it be for various respective reasons. Iraq would hopefully be a democracy, but what if its not a true democracy in the end, going by the way things are going. It would be in India’s interests to start being proactive rather than reactive. Don’t look for enemies, but don’t be a sitting duck to your enemies too. China is way ahead into its Military’s modernisation. Pakistan is all serious about its own. Its time to forge new alliances in newer ways. Pakistan will never look for peace until its Armies and Intelligence agents rule there, even though people may want peace. This culture won’t go away in a moment even though there are general elections held tomorrow. Generals will only understand force and coercion, even though there is no war. Until you make then realise that unless they don’t let people rule, they would be responsible for more misery to themselves and their country folk, its not going to work. To do this, India has to be proactive, if not pre-emptive.

  5. Hello Nitin,

    I agree with your point that this is a defining moment for Indias foreign policy, where we have chosen to be decisive and not be ambivalent. But this might turn out to be an exception, a one-off moment in our foreign policy as windbag Natwar still rules. I think this decision must have been taken by overruling the windbag.

    To V. Ramgopal: You might be interested in reading this story :

    We must not go with the sentiments people in the middle east have about India but the policies they adopt and pursue. As the IE story would indicate, the Muslim world is united and work collectively for their own interests.

    Building on a few stray experiences and basing ones entire opinions on them only reflects the trademark Indian infantility.

  6. To Nitin: you’v got it the KGB have some interesting skills which
    can be useful !!

    To the above I am aware of the hostility of the middle east establishment to India and to who-ever is not muslims, the stuff they
    write about jews is reminenscent of the Nazi era. I wonder if they have
    been watching Nazi propaganda reels.

    I am all for a militarily strong India, and alliance with the West on terrorism. China is also a big threat, the Nehru era caused a lot of damage, as Nehru gave Tibet to China on a platter.

    I am from Europe so I get to meet muslims casually. They are a proud people but I think a lot of them are fed up with their leaders and the hardness (i.e. hand chopping,head chopping, honour killings) of their culture. I speculate they find the “softness” or friendly-ness of Indian culture attractive.

    I have also met muslim fanatic, the fanatic problem is really big Europe, the native are getting worried. One should generally:
    (i) The extreme fanatics-you kill them or capture them Runsfeld style
    i.e smoke them out of caves.
    (ii) the naive fanatic: try and capture hims and show him some humanity
    he will probably cry and want to go back to his mother.
    (iii) the fanatic leader of terrorism outfits: they are scum

    As for the rest, if they are reasonable than thats great. Otherwise bribe them, take pictures of them in compromising situtations.

    The wrote my first post, because I agree that muslim fanatics have to
    be fought, but I don´t want to hate the people, its difficult as many are fanatical and not very fine people. On the otherhand, they must be suffering under the yoke of such a hard culture.

  7. To Pankaj: In my day to day life when I meet muslims I go with sentiments. But politically, I agree one needs a clear head, and sentiments must be overuled for the greater good.

    I am sure Natwar was over-ruled. Natwar still thinks it 1950, perhaps the golden era for Congress politicians. But a lot of water has flowed in the Ganges since then.

    Why is Natwar the foreign affairs minister ?
    how did he get the job ?
    perhaps his job title is some what cryptic:
    he arranged foreign affairs for senior Congress men and women and
    then bribed them for the job ?

  8. I was advocating a go slow approach on taking Iran one step closer to imposing devastating economic sanctions under which the poor and middle class suffer the most. But, unfortunately, based on past week’s performance of Iranian leaders, starting with UN speech of Iran’s president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leadership don’t seem to care about sanctions. I am glad India voted in support of NPT, although it never signed the treaty, instead of abstaining from the vote as other apparent signatories have done. I hope India took the decision because it was a conscious policy decision rather than an ideological – have to prove we are no longer non-aligned and developing nation (the first was always false, the second is still true) – based one. Also, The Acorn, while advocating voting for referring Iran to UNSC, correctly as it turned out, seems to support India throwing its weight behind US no matter what rather than making an independent policy decision. Sounds ideological to me! 🙂

  9. Chandra,

    Also, The Acorn, while advocating voting for referring Iran to UNSC, correctly as it turned out, seems to support India throwing its weight behind US no matter what rather than making an independent policy decision.

    It may appear so; but when The Acorn advocates a pro-American position, it is not because of it is ideologically pro-American. Rather, because being pro-American in the particular context is in India’s interests. For example, The Acorn has rejected attempts by the United States to circumscribe who India can buy oil and gas from, Iran included. I’m against the proposal of a pipeline that brings Iranian gas to India through Pakistan; but as I made out in the open letter to the petroleum minister, India should be open to purchase oil and gas from several sources,including Iran..

  10. If you look at:
    Iran threatens sactions on India because of the vote. Just think if
    the pipeline had gone ahead then not only Pakistan but Iran would be
    trying to dictate Indias foreign policy.

    Cooperation with the West is increasing, no doubt many in the left will argue that India will be dictated to by the West. I disagree: lets consider the next 20-30 years, Indias economy will grow therefore India will then have leverage with the West. After WWII Europe and Japan were economically on their knees. Marshal plan bought Europe back to life, at the time American held all the economic cards, now there is a balance between US and Europe.

    The society of US and Europe has also advance, in the US there was the civil rights movement. In Europe minorities now have a better deal.
    Contrast that with Islamic nations, their religon imposes a massive pull to the 7th century, so social progress if any is slow. Such as society often settles its internal and external issues violently.
    India coupled strongly to Pakistan and Iran is a recipe for disaster.

    I don’t live in India, but I gather Indian society is also evolving rapidly, to solve caste and comunal issues. Naipaul seem to believe this also. Thats why I think its better that India couples itself more with Western nations, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Brazil, and other like minded nations. China ? China is a mystery to me.

  11. Nitin, what’s you opinion on this?

    By blackmailing India into voting against Iran, the U.S. hopes to undermine Indo-Iranian economic relations to such an extent that New Delhi becomes a stakeholder in the drive for “regime change” there. How much the world has changed in a year. A country that once condemned the invasion of Iraq and refused to send its soldiers there is today in danger of becoming an accessory to the strangulation and targeting of Iran.

  12. Raven I am not Nitin, but most Iranians in Europe want regime change in Iran. Their oil wealth is being pocketed by Mullahs. I don’t belive regime change will be forced by a US invasion but by a popular uprising if the situation for the common man does not improve. A secular Iran would be good for India. There is a strong streak of muslim appeasement running in Indian society, often this is expressed as down-playing or denying the sad history of the muslim invasion of India. This make a lot of people angry. I think people should be honest about their history, history of India (pre-muslim and pre-britsh) is not one fairy story. I think this vote must have been bit of a catharsis: indian don´t have to continually suck up to muslim interests, voting with the US does not make you a lackey. India is looking after its interests, and if interests align with the West, then so be it.

    Much has been made (quite correctly) that Bush and the West should avoid a clash of civilisation with Islam. However, the reverse is true, Islam must avoid the civilisation clash with the West also. The Iranian presidents plan of developing “nuclear energy” (bombs in reality) and sharing “nuclear energy” (bombs in reality)with other muslim nations is almost a declaration of war or a desire for a clash of civillisations. I am suprised at his openess. People in India should appreciate that if a nuclear Islamic world ever “deals with” the West then XXXXX is next?
    WWho is XXXXX ? people like Natwar Singh who states there has never been a pattern of muslim persecution of Hindus will never think XXXX=India.

    India and Iran do share civillsational links, and it make me sad to see a people who were so cultured in their pre-islamic era in their current disposition.

  13. Nehru gave Tibet To China on a platter ? Nonsense. Its clear that India had NO capacity to resist the Chinese on Tibet. The same Chinese army had managed to tie down the US in North Korea a few years back. The notion that India could have somehow managed to do in Tibet over massive logisitical problems what the US and allies could not do in Korea is a pure fever dream.

    Understand, I have a lot of contempt for Nehru’s excuses and the supposed “stab in the back” by China in 1962. I believe that India should have bolstered its defences strongly to prevent Indian territory from being attacked after Tibet, but on Tibet itself, India could not do anything.

    As for Iran, its clearly hypocritical for India to report Iran despite its own long history with the IAEA. Yet, this is the same hypocrisy that all nuclear powers indulge in. India clearly had to weigh its relations with Iran vis-a-vis its relations with Europe and the US in this case. This may hurt our economic interests with Iran, but not too much, I think. Its clearly not in India’s interest for Iran to be nuclear. It is in our interest to work with the West and the US to stop nuclear proliferation.

    On the other hand, India should not go along with Western or more especially American policies on Iran all the time. Regime change in iran, if it happens, will be internal. The recent election of Ahmedianjiad shows once again that the American neocons are clueless about Iran. India has managed to preserve good relations with Iran through the Shah, the mullahs and should be able to do so with whatever government comes along.

  14. I am not suggesting that Indian army save Tibet in the 1950´s. Militarism in India was nearly killed off by Gandhi. Chess was invented in India so look at this strategically. Maos army was much stronger than Indian army at the time. Red China during the 1950s was indirectly involved a struggle with the US in Korea. Had India aligned itself with the western world, it could have prevented the occupation of Tibet by China. This is what Aurobindo had suggested in 1950. With the benefit of hindsight, India had to oppose China some day. The day of reconing came in 1962 with China trying to grab Arunachal Pradesh. US president Kennedy at the time was willing to defend India, he was willing to nuke China. I also beleive in the 1950s the US was willing to align itself with India to save Tibet. I maybe sounding pro-american here but I merely stating facts. I am pro-Indian and sometimes a country has to make alliances with other powerful nations. If a country has an economy as diverse as Japan, and the oil resources of Saudi Arabia, and the agrucultural resouces of Brazil and Ukraine combined then this country can be non-aligned and not bother with the outside world. No such country exists.

    To jay it might be hypocritcal in some sense but life is not about creating symmetries.The bad blood between America and Iran seen in a larger context is part of the bad blood between the West and the Islamic world. The two civilisations have interferred with each other for centuries. Some muslims want to convert the West, they will fail but may cause a lot mayhem in the process. The West want to “convert” the muslim world into democracies. In this struggle, I think history on the side of democratic forces:
    a lot of muslim I spoken to in the west are fed up of hardline islam, muslim women don´t like it.

    To call the Bush administration clue-less is to underestimate it. It has considerable military and financial power. Compare Bush´s record in Afganistan to the Soviet record. Local people want the US to stay to stablise the country. The Soviets were despised. The US is the first “invader” which is tolerated in Afganistan. The British never took Afganistan. To critise the Bush administration is warranted as without critism they may become too arongant or lost their touch with reality.

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