A portion of the Chabahar port
India remains undeterred by US and EU pressure to stop importing Iranian oil, indicating clearly that it would continue to be driven by its own domestic interests in the matter.
Reacting to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments that the US was engaging in “very intense and very blunt” conversations with India and others like China and Turkey to stop importing oil from Iran in order to pressure Tehran over its covert nuclear programme, officials in New Delhi yesterday said they would not be “coerced” by any country.
And reinforcing its stand defying Western sanctions, India recently used Chabahar port in southeastern Iran for the first time ever to transport 100,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan as part of its humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
India helped build Chabahar a decade ago to provide it access to Afghanistan and Central Asia- banned by neighbouring nuclear rival Pakistan- and is involved in constructing a 560-mile long rail line from the Zabul iron ore mines in southern Afghanistan to the Iranian port.
Along with Iran and Afghanistan it also has an agreement to accord Indian goods, headed for Central Asia and Afghanistan preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar, an arrangement it plans to exploit imminently.
A defiant India was also dispatching a large trade delegation to Iran later this month to explore business opportunities created by Western sanctions…
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar announces the construction of the natural gas pipeline
Pakistan announced plans Thursday to proceed with the construction of a natural gas pipeline to Iran in an apparent rebuff to warnings from Washington to call off the project.
“All of these projects are in Pakistan’s national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous considerations,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar told reporters at a news conference in Islamabad.
“As far as our bilateral relations and cooperation is concerned, we do not make it contingent on views and policies of any third country,” she added.
Khar’s statements came 24 hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional subcommittee that Pakistan risked facing economic sanctions if it continued its plans for the pipeline.
Clinton’s warning to Islamabad was part of Washington’s increasingly aggressive efforts to force Iran to end its nuclear program by making it difficult for Tehran to profit from exporting crude oil and natural gas, its main sources of income…
The United States, Israel and many other countries fear Iran is using what it says is its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear bombs. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes and functions under the guidelines and oversight of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
You can leave out the “many other countries” rationale. The United States is following the course it has for a half-century to protect what is often called its “aircraft carrier parked in the Middle East” – Israel. The worries about nuclear weapons in Iran have never been countered by comparable worries over Israel’s nuclear WMDs. Why admit hypocrisy after a couple generations of consistency?
But, the nations of South Asia have to look to their own well-being and that starts with commerce and trade. Leave the sabre-rattling up to the United States, Israel and Iran.