The Israel lobby in the US is pressing New Delhi over its trade interests in Iran. The American Jewish Committee has expressed its concern in a letter to India’s ambassador over its effort to expand trade with Iran, while other democracies including the US are using economic pressure to put a stop to Tehran’s nuclear programme.
In the letter, the Committee emphasized concern over the comment made by Rahul Khullar, Commerce Secretary, about the delegation of “Indian business persons travelling to Iran, to capitalize the trade opportunities created by the withdrawal of the European market from Iran”.
The lobby group views this as New Delhi taking advantage of the sanctions that have been adopted by other nations. In the letter, the Committee expressed dismay and alarm at India’s attempt to ”elevate commercial interests over vital security concerns.”
India’s foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai, tried to explain India’s stand on commercial ties with Iran, but the US audience remained skeptical.
Mathai explained that India is an energy-starved nation and is thus looking at the most economical and logical solution to cater to its supply needs. US officials suggested supplies from Japan and South Korea as an alternative to Iranian imports
. Even though India has pledged to keep Iranian energy imports at under ten percent, the anxiety over its ties with Iran, surfaced at almost every meeting Mathai attended, during his three-day visit to Washington, reported the Economic Times.
Indian officials tried in vain to explain to American officials that isolating Tehran would do nothing except hamper America and India’s stand in Afghanistan. Interestingly, the US is already chatting up the Taliban in efforts of extricating themselves from Afghanistan. If successful, this will make things extremely hard for India.
Former Indian diplomats have been very vocal about their disdain for the US’s conflicting policies in Iran, while serving officials are adopting a more somber approach in explaining their position to Washington.